Western Australians have been rocked by two recent high profile cases of land transfer fraud. In both instances, scammers stole the identity of landowners living outside Australia, and then completed the successful sale and transfer of their homes. In response and in an effort to combat fraudulent land transfers, Landgate has tightened its document execution and registration procedures.

The new practice

The Western Australian Registrar and Commissioner of Titles Joint Practice: Verification of Identity dated 20 June 2012 (Practice) commenced on 1 July 2012. The Practice has a sixmonth transition period, and full compliance with the Practice is expected for documents (as listed below) lodged at Landgate after 2 January 2013.

The Practice introduces new requirements for verifying the identity of parties who dispose of certain types of interests in land in Western Australia. Lawyers, settlement agents, mortgagors and real estate agents are now required to verify the identity of any person who executes a relevant Landgate document (as listed below) by making a face-to-face comparison between that person and his or her identification documents.

When does the Practice apply?

The Practice applies to the following documents:

Click here to view table.

Who must be identified?

All natural persons who execute any of the documents specified in the Practice must be identified. This includes natural persons who execute documents on behalf of companies (e.g. in their capacity as a director under section 127 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth)) and incorporated bodies.

What does the Practice require?

If a person is required to be identified under the Practice, they must present themselves and their identity documents (e.g. a passport and driver’s licence) to an authorised identifier who will verify their identity.

What does this mean for you?

If a Landgate document requiring verification is executed in Australia, the person executing that document may have their identity verified by:

  • producing their identity documents at one of our offices; or
  • attending Australia Post with their identity documents and obtaining an Identifier’s Certificate.

If a Landgate document is executed outside of Australia, the executing person may have their identity verified by producing their identity documents to an Australian Consular Officer at an Australian Consulate Office.