Friday 4 January 2019

Torrens Title and Strata Title - aussie inventions, one hundred years apart

1911 Sydney Land Sub-Division Sales Poster

Torrens Title

In 1858, Sir Robert Torrens, the South Australian Premier, started using a new simple system of title by registration: The Torrens Title System. The idea was in part based on the registration of merchant ships and did away with the need for proving a 'chain of title' (tracing title through a series of documents). 

"The State guarantees title and is generally supported by a compensation scheme for those who lose their title due to private fraud or error in the State's operation."

Strata Title

Just over one hundred years later in 1962, Strata Title was born in Sydney, NSW. The object of this new ownership tenure was a 25 storey residential high-rise on a waterfront peninsular opposite Sydney Harbour Bridge. After much legal debate, led by the skyscraper developer and founder of the Lend Lease Corporation, Dick Dusseldorp (AO), strata ownership became possible.

"Strata Title is a form of property ownership, devised predominately for multi-level apartment buildings. The 'strata' part of the term refers to apartments being on different levels, or 'strata'."

Previously, the only adequate method of dividing ownership in a high-rise building in the world, generally, was company title, which made it difficult for potential buyers to provide security for bank financing.
Late Fifties Modernist Design

The building at the centre of the game-change was itself, a significant and highly controversial work by modernist Architect, Harry Seidler. Harry’s dear wife, Penelope showed her abiding support thirty years later, creating a sweet tapestry of the hotly debated building. The Architect always saw it as a reflection of the art movement of the time, akin to a Mondrian painting.

Detail of Tapestry

Canada is one of the many countries that have now adopted Strata Title ownership. It is fascinating to be reminded just how alike Australians and Canadians can be. You could say it is part of being in the Commonwealth of Nations, but it is interesting to note that neither of these systems of ownership title have been adopted by Great Britain. 

Blues Point today from Barangaroo

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