What Do The Different Types Of Property Ownership in NSW Actually Mean?


Whether you are buying your first home or a commercial investment property, it is important to have an understanding of the more common forms of property ownership used within New South Wales. Different title types have regulations unique to their form and can have varying charges attached to them. Knowing the difference can assist you to make an informed choice before buying property.


Torrens Title

Torrens Title is the most common form of property ownership in New South Wales. Also referred to as Freehold Title, this system of ownership was introduced in 1858. Torren Titles are registered with the state government and providing there is no mortgage on the property, the land is completely owned by the persons registered on the Certificate of Title (also known as a ‘Title Deed’). If there is a mortgage on the property, the mortgagee generally holds the Certificate of Title as security until the loan is paid. Your name as the owner will appear on the Certificate of Title but the mortgage will also be registered here to show the interest the mortgagee has in the property.


Old System Title

Property ownership of this kind dates back to when New South Wales was first colonised in 1788. Because Australia was colonised by the English, the system used to track property ownership also came from England. Old System title uses a system of registration that uses a separate document every time the land is purchased by another party. As the number of transactions in relation to the property increases, so does the number of documents attached to the title of the property. This way you can see the paper trail of how the property has passed between people. It is very common for Old System Title documents to go missing because of this. Like Torrens Title, owners of Old System Title own the interest in the land completely. It is now uncommon to own property this way as it has been replaced by Torren Title however, it is still possible.


Strata Title

Strata Title is very common when looking at apartment blocks, units and town houses. Owning a property under a strata arrangement generally means that you only own part of a building and have shared interests with other owners of the strata complex in regards to common property such as gardens or stairwells. For example, with a unit, this means that you generally own the inside of the unit but not the outside walls or fixtures as they are generally deemed common property. It is very common for strata properties to be run by a strata management company who control the upkeep, maintenance and finances for the common areas. If you purchase property that is a Strata Title you will generally be required to make quarterly payments into the sinking fund and administrative fund for your share of the common property on a continuous basis.



Leasehold arrangements generally apply to government owned land. With this type of arrangement, you do not own the property outright but instead lease it for an extended period of time, generally 99 years. As the lessee, you will be entitled to occupy the land for that entire period. When entering into this arrangement, there is an initial cost for the Leasehold arrangement (negotiated between the parties) as well as annual rental payments. Terms and conditions for Leasehold agreements vary.


Community Title

Community Titles are most often used for large development lots and for gated estates. It has some similarities to Strata Title but generally it is the property owners that are jointly responsible for maintaining the properties. Instead of a strata company, there is often a residence committee or a manager that ensures the upkeep of the property. Community Title schemes generally maintain their own roads, gardens and garbage facilities (including collection). Whilst Community Title owners still receive service from their local council, they are often limited. Buying into a Community Title arrangement, like Strata Title systems, require continuous payments in order to account for your share of the upkeep. 


When purchasing property under any of these schemes, it is important to speak to a conveyancer or lawyer with Property Law experience to help you understand the complexities and requirements under each kind of title. If you need further information or assistance please contact:

Carrie Alton
02 4036 3307

This blog is merely general and non specific information on the subject matter and is not and should not be considered or relied on as legal advice. Coutts is not responsible for any cost, expense, loss or liability whatsoever in relation to this blog, including all or any reliance on this blog or use or application of this blog by you.

Retirement Villages – Helping You To Make Informed Decisions


Moving into a retirement village is not an investment choice, it is a lifestyle choice and can be a very exciting time. Living in a private and secure environment with people of a similar age are just some of the reasons why the move may be a positive change for you. However like any other major life decision, there are a great many things to consider before signing an agreement. From a lawyers perspective, Carrie outlines some of the things you should think about when considering moving into a retirement village.


What is a retirement village?

A retirement village is a residential complex where the people that live there have entered into a contract with the operator of the village, either to live in the premises and/or to receive other services that may be available. It is important to remember that support services and facilities available in villages can differ depending on the provider and you should visit multiple providers to find what best works for you.


Within the retirement village framework there is a variety of accommodation types available including:

  • Self-contained premises for people who are able to live independently;

  • Serviced living arrangements (also known as assisted living apartments) which also provide cleaning meals and other needed services; and

  • A mixture of both which allows those who live there to take on services as the need arises.


What laws apply to retirement villages?

In New South Wales the main legislation that applies to retirement villages is the Retirement Villages Act 1999 and the Retirement Villages Regulation 2017. It is important to note that this does not include or cover nursing homes. This legislation sets out what is required of the operators and the rights of the residents, what information should be provided to people interested in living within their facilities, explain how and when the contract can be ended and set out the process of entering into a village contract.


Types of village contracts

In New South Wales there is a variety of contract types used by retirement village operators to engage new residents and manage their facilities. Some of the contractual arrangements used are:

  • Loan and Licence Arrangements – this option is generally used by not for profit organisations such as a church that owns a village. In these circumstances you pay a contribution going in to the facility in the form of an interest free loan in return for the right to occupy the premises. You may also pay recurrent fees. You do not own the unit or have a registered interest in these arrangements;

  • Leasehold Arrangements – this is where the operator owns the residential property and you as the resident lease the property. The lease is registered on the title deed which provides you with some extra protection if the retirement village is sold. The amount you pay depends on the village you choose and the market. When you leave you may be required to pay a departure fee;

  • Strata and Community Schemes – this type of arrangement has many similarities to standard strata schemes where you will be a member of the owners corporation or community association and be required to pay levies to cover the cost of managing the property. However, unlike these schemes, you will be required to enter into a service contract with the operator before you can move in; and

  • Company Title Schemes – Some, although very few privately run villages may also use this scheme. The village is owned by a company and instead you purchase shares at market value which in turn give you the right to occupy the premises. A Board of Directors which are appointed by the shareholders run the village.


Things you should consider

There is a variety of things you should consider before entering into an agreement with a retirement village. Some of these include:

  • Seek expert advice from a lawyer before making a commitment. A solicitor can go through the contract, explain your rights and requirements of you if you choose to enter into an agreement with a retirement village;

  • Think about the type of village you want to live in and what you can afford on a continuing basis;

  • Visit the village and get a feel for the culture of the community to make sure it is a place you are happy to live; and

  • Read and understand the policies of the village on guests and pets look into the health and lifestyle programs available at the facility.


You are more likely to make a decision that suits your needs and lifestyle choices if you are well informed and seek advice from the very outset of your journey into a retirement village.


If you need further information or assistance in navigating your rights and responsibilities or understanding the contract please contact:

Carrie Alton
02 4036 3307