Dismay at privatisation of SA’s land titles office

Conveyancers and property professionals are disappointed with the South Australian Government’s announcement to privatise the state’s Lands Titles Office (LTO).

CEO of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers SA division (AICSA) Rebecca Hayes says the LTO is a service that performs a pivotal role in the South Australian economy.

“We are obviously disappointed and concerned about the privatisation of the Lands Titles Office,” Hayes says.

“Given the figure touted for the sale is between $300 and $400 million it appears to be a short-term gain for the government, with long-term, and yet unknown, ramifications for the South Australian public.

“Our land titles system protects consumers, maintains a high level of expertise, is efficient and is a system that has supported South Australians well for 150 years.”

In the last year, property transfers lodged at the Lands Titles Office exceeded $20 billion and 63,300 mortgages provided a slightly lesser amount of capital to people for purchases and development.

Hayes says commercialisation should be considered carefully and with caution, as personal data of South Australians will be exposed to unnecessary risk if placed in the hands of the private sector.

The government’s claim that the business case for commercialisation is “undeniably strong” is questionable according to the president of AICSA Tim O’Halloran.

“We have significant concerns around the loss of efficiency and expertise, increased costs for consumers, the access and privacy of data, governance and the continued implementation of best practise anti-fraud procedures,” he says.

“We will continue to work with the South Australian Government to ensure our concerns under a privatised model are addressed, including legal protections around the titles register, capping LTO fee increases to CPI, ensuring the efficiency of the LTO is maintained and data privacy is preserved.

“Given the government has now committed to commercialise the LTO, the AICSA will work hard to ensure the best result for the SA public,” Hayes says.

In South Australia, registered conveyancers perform or supervise more than 90 per cent of all transactions lodged with the Lands Titles Office.

AICSA advises consumers, conveyancers, real estate agents and other parties involved in property transactions and can be contacted on (08) 8359 2090 or through the website at www.aicsa.com.au if assistance is needed.

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