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I Am a Tenant. When Should I Register a Lease and What is a Verification of Identity?

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Registering a lease refers to recording your title, where you record your interest in a property (as a tenant) under the lease. Further, registering a lease is beneficial for tenants as it formally documents your interest in the land on the land title register. This means, to some extent, you will have indefeasibility of title. However, if you wish to register your lease, you will generally need to undergo the identity verification process.

Although the standards vary across the states and territories, as a general rule, all tenants must provide some form of identification to verify their identity. This article will outline when you should register your lease and the identification process that comes with it. 

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Registering the Lease

Each state and territory has different requirements for when you must register a lease. However, New South Wales is currently the only state requiring all leases to fulfil specific requirements before registration. Furthermore, in New South Wales, you must register a lease that will last at least three years.

However, it is not compulsory to register a lease in other states and territories. In most cases, the parties will agree to register the lease regardless, as registration typically benefits the tenant. 

What is Verification of Identity (VOI)?

If you wish to register your lease, your lawyer or conveyancer must first undertake a VOI. Essentially, a VOI is a process you must follow to minimise the risk of fraud. 

Some of the requirements for the VOI process may vary due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. However, typically the requirements include that:

  • the VOI must occur through a face-to-face in-person interview;
  • you must provide identity documents that meet one of the mandatory categories; and
  • you must reasonably satisfy the verifier that you are the individual in your identity documents.

Furthermore, your lawyer or conveyancer may use an identity agent to undertake the VOI process. 

To be clear, you must follow the VOI process before registering any lease.

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What if I Cannot Meet the VOI Standards?

Generally, you must adhere to the VOI standards. However, there are cases where your lawyer or conveyancer may deviate slightly from this process. For example, when undertaking a VOI, the current laws state that a lawyer or conveyancer may verify a person’s identity in another way. However, they must do so in a way that ‘constitutes the taking of reasonable steps.’ 

There is no set definition for what constitutes reasonable steps. However, you should be aware that your lawyer or conveyancer may ask you to provide other documents or follow another process to verify your identity. Generally, this will only occur where it is impractical to undertake the standard VOI process.

Benefits of Registration in Each State

Once you complete the process of VOI, you may register your lease. In all Australian states, the registration of a lease will provide you with indefeasibility of title. Essentially, indefeasibility of title provides a tenant with a registered title over real property, so a third party can not challenge your claim over your property. 

Indefeasibility of title is a system determining who has priority or ownership over real property.

There is little to gain from registering a short-term lease as legislation across all Australian states protects these tenants. In Victoria, all tenants receive specific protections under a lease, regardless of the length of the lease or whether they register it. 

However, you should note that third parties will only receive a notification of your interest in the real property if you register your lease. Further, any individual who conducts a title search about the real property will be able to see your interest. So, for example, if the landlord chooses to sell the real property, your title registration ensures any purchasers are aware of your interest and, as such, should honour your lease. 

Key Takeaways

Although legislation across Australia provides tenants with specific protections regarding their property, registering a lease is the safest and most beneficial option for tenants. Registration will ensure tenants have indefeasibility of title over the property and notify third parties of your interest in it. 

However, before registering a lease, you must complete a VOI which minimises the risk of property fraud. If you cannot meet the exact standards for a VOI, your lawyer may be able to complete a VOI through another means. 

If you need help registering your lease or conducting a VOI, our experienced leasing lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. You will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents for a low monthly fee. Call us today on 1300 544 755 or visit our membership page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a VOI? 

The verification of identity process requires tenants to prove their identity through various documents. Therefore, a VOI is crucial to minimising the risk of property fraud. 

What are the requirements for registering a lease?

Each state and territory has different requirements for when you must register a lease. However, new South Wales is currently the only state requiring all leases to fulfil specific requirements before registration.

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