While Australia may seem a long way from Germany geographically, Germans have been an integrated part of Australia’s multicultural community since the mid 1800s. Even The Australian Government Department of Social Services acknowledges ‘Germans were at the forefront of Australia’s early European settlement and exploration’. In the 2016 National Census, 4.5% of the current Australian population identified as having German ancestry. The survey, conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics also showed that German nationals are Australia’s 10th largest immigrant population. Given that Australia’s population is comprised of almost 200 immigrant nationalities, the German-Australian community has been, and continues to be, a significant part of Australian society.
In the area of property ownership and land rights, the contribution of one particular German immigrant, Dr. Ulrich Hübbe, may even have been pivotal in the Australian development of a now internationally recognised system of land ownership registration known as ‘The Torrens Title System’. While this article seeks more to discuss the current situation than the historical lead up, those with interest in knowing more about the debate may wish to read ‘Ulrich Hübbe’s Role In The Creation Of The ‘Torrens’ System Of Land Registration In South Australia’. For the opposing view, the research paper ‘Is The Torrens System German?’ is also available.
History aside, the current application of The Torrens Title System is relevant to all current and future investors in the Australian property market. As the Australian Government states, ‘Property legislation in all states and territories is based on the Torrens principle of registration of title. Each state and territory has a central register of all land in the state which shows the owner of the land. The land title is the official record. It can also include information about mortgages, covenants, caveats and easements.’ Ultimately, this system guarantees only one owner per property title, and acts as a centralised security against individuals losing documents or fraudulently altering ownership records.
The Torrens Title System applies to all property transactions in which the land is purchased, with or without a building. The Australian alternative to this type of purchase is to buy ‘under strata’. A strata title is the ownership of a part of a property – usually a flat within an apartment block. All common areas such as foyers, general property parking, and shared swimming pool areas are owned in common. All strata titles together form the complete property. More specific information regarding strata title is available if required, however the focus of this particular article is the freehold purchase of property covered under the Torrens Title System.
While individual advice is beyond the bounds of this article, and any information is to be treated as general, The Torrens Title System ensures that all purchases of land in Australia are protected to the highest degree. The Torrens Title System is used widely across the British Commonwealth, Canada, and Europe. It shares many common elements with the German Land Register (Grundbuch).
The combination of the reliable, centralised record of property ownership in The Torrens Title System, Australia’s high level of quality governance and fair legal process, and investor policies aimed at enticing foreign investors, means real estate investment in Australia is a quality opportunity. As outlined in our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ page, German nationals are welcomed, even encouraged, to invest in Australia’s thriving real estate market, provided a few conditions and restrictions are adhered to. As long as all proper processes are followed, The Torrens Title System guarantees you will never be faced with an investor’s worst nightmare – buying a property, only to eventually discover you don’t legally own it!