What's In A Title?

Knowing the difference between the forms of Title Ownership of real estate, or property as it is referred to in some parts of the world, is important.

In addition, knowledge of the numerous terms used in the Government Land Offices as well as lawyer's offices, is vital. So I have added two excellent links for my readers at the end - definately worth being put on your favorites.

Many people don't underestand what the Title names mean. So perhaps a layman's definition may help.

Essentially there are three forms ownership of real property in Australia.

Some of these terms may differ in the USA and other countries, but essentially the definitions will still apply as to how they work.

The first is Freehold Title ownership.

Freehold Title would cover the majority of land title ownership by the vast amount of the population in most free enterprise economies.

The title is described in Plan Form which is drawn or as we say, is prepared by a Land Surveyor.

The Lot (of land) has all its boundaries measured and noted as to the length of each side. Each boundary is is also defined in Degrees amd Minutes to define the direction or alignment of each boundary.

Any structure, such as a house, is then placed on the land, in precise measured distances from each of the boundaries.

These are sometimes referred to as "set-backs" or the "building line'" That is the front of the house cannot be any closed to the front boundary than 6 metres (say 18 feet).

The Local Town Plan of the area determines these "set-backs" which in turn sets a standard look of a road or street.

The side boundary "set-back" of say 2 metres (6 feet) ensures a good healthy separation of 4 metres (12 feet) between houses for privacy, fire separation etc.

The next form of ownership is by Group Title.

Group Title is used where multiple-dwellings are built on land in such a way as to have "common property" which is owned and shared by all the owners within the estate.

Common property can be defined as access roads, visitor car parking, pools, gardens and walkways and is owned by the community of owners through a Legally Established Body, created by an Act of Parliament, called a Body Corporate in Australia.

The house on a Group Title can be one, two or three stories in height, but whatever goes up in the air in the two or three story can only have one owner.

With Group Title Ownership the owner “owns” the land on which its house is built and a share of the common property. That means the house footprint and maybe also a back courtyard garden, whatever the design layout determines, will be on title.

Group Title covers house accommodation design that is in the form of attached, semi-detached or independent house structures.

Each owner of a house has an entitlement to vote in the Body Corporate on how the common property is managed and maintained.

The last form of ownership is by Strata Title.

Strata Title applies to the ownership of individual Lots in a High Rise Building, irrespective of whether it is a residential tower or a commercial office tower.

Strata Title is described as the vertical and horizontal separation of real property.

Imagine a high rise residential building and you own an apartment on the 5th level.

Once again the Land Surveyor determines the boundaries that separate one unit from another. This is done under a 'code of measurement' being half way through the separating wall.

The Surveyor measures the length, width and heigth of the boundary walls. In this way the apartment can be described by a surveyor on a Plan.

Each individual strata title owner does not own the land on which the multi-story building sits, but again, as with Group Title, you do have a lot entitlement, that allow you to vote on the management of the common property, such as corridors, entrances, lifts, elevators etc.


Many people use the term Strata Title and apply it to all types of multi dwelling development Titles.

Clearly there is a difference in that Group Title gives the owner of a lot, ownership of the land that the house lot stands on as well.

"Title Information For My United States Readers."

"Title Information For My United Kingdom Readers."

"Title Information For My New Zealand Readers."

"Title Information For My Singapore Readers."

"Title Information For My Canadian Readers."

Australian States

"Title Information For My Queensland Readers."

"Title Information For My New South Wales Readers."

"Title Information For My Victorian Readers."

"Title Information For My Northern Territory Readers."

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