Much has changed at the Deeds Office as protocols to curb the spread of Covid-19 have been adopted and adapted (some more carefully thought through than others!). It is wise to arrive early to try and get a fair spot in the sometimes-unavoidable queue to enter on the ground floor.
Conveyancers must sign in, answer the standard health-screening questions, have temperatures taken, and proceed to the lifts in pairs for the ride up to the 12th floor.
Conveyancers are now only permitted to enter the building from 09.45am after the conveyancing clerks have left the building. The 12th floor is where all the business takes place, which was previously split over the 12th & 13th floors.
First up you will find Lodgments – a Lodgment is the term for when documents are submitted to the Deeds Office for examination. For lodgment to take place the “linked parties” (usually transfer attorney, bond attorney and bond cancellation attorney) must find each other, collate the deeds, and physically submit them as a batch before a certain time. There is much phoning and running around to locate one another involved!
The next order of business are the matters “up on prep”. Matters that are “up” have passed examination successfully. There may be a note to be removed by the examiner before the matter can be handed in to register the transfer.
Due to the length of time that examination is taking, expired rates clearance certificates & Home Owners Association Consents are now considered notes and are allowed to be swapped out by conveyancers. Previously, this would have resulted in a rejection.
The period allowed for removing notes, and “holding over” for transfer, has been extended from 5 days to 10 days. This allows a fair period for conveyancers to obtain any extensions needed to remove notes. This also assists with timing, as trying to reach the Transfer target dates set in a Sale Agreement is even more of a challenge as the Deeds Office examination speeds are unpredictable at best.
Finally the matter is ready to be handed in for registration, so off the conveyancers go to meet up and exchange deeds and physically “hand in” the linked batch together. Only 20 Conveyancers are permitted at once and the queue to get in snakes though the corridor as people wait their turn.
The deeds should be in the Execution room for registration on the following morning. Once inside, conveyancers collect and sign (execute) their respective deeds and must then submit the batch to the Registrars to formally register the transfer or bond. Deal done!
Conveyancers then dash to the nearest coffee shop for a well-deserved refuel and head back to the office to notify clients!
The Deeds Office has made certain concessions to ease the pressure caused by the backlog in examination, which is greatly appreciated.
Conveyancers and the Deeds Office are doing the best they can to work together to get through this time of change and uncertainty.