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What is Torrens land?

The Torrens title system is a method of recording and registering land ownership and interests. It is named after South Australian Sir Robert Richard Torrens, who is largely credited with designing and implementing it.

Established in South Australia in 1858, the revolutionary land titling system was adopted throughout Australia and New Zealand. It then spread across the world.

Countries now using the system include, England and Wales, Ireland, Malaysia, Singapore, Iran, Canada and Madagascar.

The Torrens title system works on three principles:

  1. The land titles register accurately and completely reflects the current ownership and interests of a parcel of land.  Because the register contains this information, it means ownership and other interests do not have to be proved by title deeds. There are certain exceptions, including unregistered easements or tenancies and rights acquired by adverse possession.
  2. Title to land or an interest in land is obtained through registration.
  3. A government guarantee provides for compensation to a person who suffers loss of land or a registered interest.

What is general law land?

General law land is the system of land ownership that predates the Torrens system of title by registration.

In this system title to land is shown through a chain of dealings in land from the current owner back to the original grant from the Crown.

The Transfer of Land Act 1958 provides a superior means of transacting in land and better protects a person's interest in land.

General law land can be converted to land under the Transfer of Land Act following an application by the landowner.

In addition, the Registrar of Titles can convert general law land to Torrens land.

More information about general law titles can be found in our brochures:

What is Crown land?

Crown land is land owned by the government.

Approximately one-third of Victoria is Crown land and is used by a range of people, from families who visit local parks and reserves, to developers and government who use it for major projects such as roads and railways.

You can identify Crown land and determine its status through LANDATA® or an authorised information broker.

A Crown land folio records the current legal status of a single parcel of Crown land and any changes from the date of entry in the database.

Read more in what is government land?

Relevant legislation

Several Acts of Parliament and regulations relate to land dealings in Victoria, including:

  • Transfer of Land Act 1958
  • Sale of Land Act 1962
  • Property Law Act 1958
  • Subdivision Act 1988
  • Subdivision (Procedures) Regulations) 2011
  • Subdivision (Registrar's Requirements) Regulations 2011
  • Subdivision (Body Corporate) Regulations 2001
  • Subdivision (Registrar's Fees) Regulations 2004

You can find current legislation at Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents.

Page last updated: 13/11/20