Verification of Identity Standard for Land Dealings

Verification of Identity Standard for Land Dealings

With amendments and changes occurring frequently to the standards and procedures for the Land Registry Services, it’s important to keep up to date.

The changes to the Land Registry Services are required with the government initiatives to move towards a paperless system of e-conveyancing over the coming months and years and also to limit the amount of fraudulent activity in property. Security and efficiency is checked and rechecked to ensure everything and everyone is behaving as it should.

What is Verification of Identity (VOI)?

In the past Verification of Identity has been somewhat discretionary for a conveyancer to decide on what counts as adequate information to prove that the people buying and selling their home are who they say they are. Through the years legislation has tightened this process by limiting the possible ways identification information can be checked, and then increased to include multiple forms of identification as standard, including valid photo ID (such as a passport) verified in a face-to-face meeting.

With PEXA, (the online system for handling mortgages, settlements and property sale fund transfers) about to become NSW’s only platform for e-conveyancing, security has been evaluated and enhanced to protect users online throughout their buying or sale process.

Changes to the Verification of Identity Standards

If you do have the paperwork, we are discussing The Conveyancing Rules published by Land Registry Service (formerly LPI), specifically rule 4.1 which states that it is the duty of the agents who are representing the parties of the sale (the person/s buying and the person/s selling) to have every person involved correctly identified.

The agent who represents each party is employed to handle the paperwork, step through the online application and negotiate settlement times and terms and payments between parties.

An agent will either be a licensed conveyancer, a legal practitioner or a law practice. It is important to check that your agent has a current NSW license.

VOI will need to be met by everyone involved in the sale transfer, which includes;

  • The clients of the agent (those selling, purchasing or overseeing the buy/sell)
  • The person who is listed on the certificates of title

The agent might choose to take more steps in the identification process if the provided information is suspicious in the following ways

  • The document appears not to be genuine
  • The photograph is not a reasonable likeness
  • The names of the person being identified do not match those on the documents
  • They feel there is any risk involved in the transfer+

An agent is not permitted by law to proceed with a transaction if the buyer or seller is not able to satisfactorily complete VOI.

Moving through to Rule 4.3 AUTHORITY (RIGHT TO DEAL)

This rule deals with a party’s right to deal with a parcel of land and covers every conveyancing transaction dealing in NSW.

It states that a mortgagee (like a bank or financial provider or their representative) must verify that the client entering the transaction is a legal person with a legal right to be part of the proceedings.

The rule applies to all land dealings including

  • Transfer
  • Mortgage
  • Charge
  • Lease
  • Dealing

The verification of right to deal is closely associated with the VOI so in most cases they are (and should be) completed simultaneously.

What are the reasonable steps an agent makes to verify identity?

For the outgoing party (such as those selling or leasing land in NSW) they need to supply documents that establish a right to deal, including:

  • The Certificate of Title
  • Bills with the correct address for either water, gas or electricity
  • Notices for government rates
  • Land tax assessments
  • Loan documentation

For an incoming party (such as someone buying land in NSW) they need to provide documentation proving they have a right to deal via

  • The contract of sale and purchase of land
  • Loan documentation

Further considerations may be required under more complex situations, for example

  • There has been a name change that shows differently from person to documentation, in which case proof of name change is required.
  • A person is acting under a power of attorney
  • The person is a successor to the registered owner
  • There is doubt of the documents authenticity

New Residency and Citizenship Identification

As well as proof of identification, those buying and selling land in NSW will also need to provide proof of their residency and citizenship.

As part of the land tax certificate application, the seller will be required to disclose their nationality as well as their current residency status. The land tax certificate is required to be passed from the current homeowner to the new buyer before settlement is completed. The land tax certificate will show the new owner if any money is owed.

A legal conveyancer is familiar with all the requirements and will be able to assist in getting all the documents gathered and distributed to all parties in a timely manner.

Foreign buyers will need to gain approval for purchase from the Foreign Investment Review Board as well as provide details of their citizenship and visa when having contracts and transfers stamped.

Any new information about the buyer's nationality gathered by the NSW Office of State Revenue will be passed on to the Australian Tax Office to be added to the national register of foreign ownership of land titles. This new national register commenced on 1 July 2016.

Peta Stewart Certified Practicing Conveyancer is able to assist with verification of identity and verification of the right to deal.

For those living in the Albury-Wodonga region, in-house VOI is available. For those in any other areas in NSW, clients will be sent a form to complete the VOI at their nearest Australia Post office.

Peta Stewart – Certified Practicing Conveyancer


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