The Western Australian government has introduced new rules that aim to better protect land owners against property theft.
The move comes after a number of recent property fraud cases in WA, one of which involved the sale of a property without the owner’s knowledge.
The government said that one of the new safeguarding options is for overseas property owners to put a caveat over their property at the state government-agency Landgate.
“Any overseas property owner concerned about the possibility of identity theft is able to lodge a new caveat over their property which prevents unlawful change of ownership,” he said.
The government said the only way to remove the caveat is for the owners to attend in person at the Landgate Midland office and identify themselves to the satisfaction of the registrar. The minimum requirement for identification is the 100 point check.
The government said other related measures were also being introduced.
“All transactions will undergo extra scrutiny to ensure they are independently checked by at least two senior Landgate officers, including a senior examiner who will confirm evidence of a 100-point check,” Mr Grylls said. “This stage of the process will also involve the examiner confirming the validity of the witness.”
Also, the Registrar of Titles will now only be satisfied with documents witnessed overseas by an Australian Consular Official and Landgate will confirm the witnessing, directly with the consular office.
“This means the registrar will require evidence that a 100 point identity check has been carried out by the conveyancer and it must accompany the transfer documents,” the Minister said.
“If confirmation isn’t provided, a stop will be put on the transaction.”
As of August 29, Mr Grylls said 61,007 transfers had been registered since September 1, 2010.
“These will be reviewed,” he said. “So far, 34 per cent have gone through the first stage of the review process.”
The government said Landgate is also considering extending its existing TitleWatch service so an email alert activates early in the process to advise the subscriber of a potential land transaction on their nominated land titles.
“What is most significant about this service is that notification will take place prior to settlement, and before the exchange of funds and issue of title,” the minister said.
“While no-one can completely eliminate fraud, Landgate is working with industry to minimise the likelihood of further occurrences. They are not common given the high number of property transactions that take place.”