Land Registry Services

Glossary of Terms

Whether you're buying, selling or transacting on land – we're here to help.

We know that the terminology used when transacting on land is unfamiliar to most people, so we've compiled a glossary of terms to help you out.

If you still have questions, please contact our friendly staff.

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A person entitled to administer a deceased or represented person’s estate. The administrator must administer the estate in accordance with the provisions of the Administration and Probate Act 1958 or the Guardianship and Administration Act 1986.

Adverse possession is a legal rule that enables the occupier of a piece of land to obtain ownership of it, provided they can prove uninterrupted and exclusive possession of the land for at least 15 years.

A caveat is a document any person with a legal interest in a property can lodge with SERV. After registration, a caveat note appears on the title giving prospective buyers notice that a third party might have rights over the property.

A document that is a paper or electronic duplicate of an electronic record contained in the Victorian Land Registry. In most cases, you will need to produce the Certificate of Title when lodging a dealing at SERV.

The legal process to transfer a property from one person or proprietor to another.

A covenant is a written agreement between the seller and purchaser of a piece of land restricting what the land can be used for. For example, restricting the type of building material the purchaser can use.

Crown land is land that is owned by the government. Crown land is usually set aside for a specific public purpose. When Crown land is released to the public, it is said to be alienated from the Crown and a Crown Grant in the name of the purchaser is issued.

Any form together with supporting documents lodged by the directives listed in the traction guide.

A discharge of mortgage is a type of dealing, usually by a bank or financial institution, after a mortgage has been repaid. On registration, reference to the mortgage is removed from the title. Please note that SERV will not automatically issue a certificate. If required, the financial institution should request this at the time of submission.

An easement is a right held by someone to use land belonging to someone else for a specific purpose. Common examples of easements are drainage, sewerage and carriageway easements.

An encumbrance is an interest in a piece of land by someone other than the registered owner. Encumbrances place limitations on a property. Examples include mortgages, easements, leases and restrictive covenants.

A person appointed to execute the will of a person who has died and is entitled to deal with that deceased person’s estate.


Ownership of land in common by two or more persons where there is a right of survivorship. That is, upon the death of one joint owner, the land as a whole passes to the survivor(s). Your manner of holding will default to joint proprietorship if you do not specify your preference in the transfer of land document.

If you do not have the volume and folio reference for the parcel of land you are searching, you will need to do a land index search. This search will give you the volume and folio details of a land parcel when you enter an address.

A land title is an official record of who owns a piece of land. It can also include information about mortgages, covenants, caveats and easements affecting the land.

The submission of specific documents into the Victorian Online Titles System (VOTS) for examination prior to registering.

The way in which two or more owners hold land. For example, as joint tenants, or as tenants in common in equal or unequal shares.

Most people who buy a house need to borrow some part of the purchase money, usually from a bank. The bank will normally require a mortgage to be given by the borrower as security for the repayment of the loan. The mortgage is registered on the title to the property. A mortgage sets out the terms and conditions of the loan, including the rights of the bank in the event that the borrower fails to repay the loan.


A non-represented party is a party to a conveyancing transaction who is not represented by a conveyancer or lawyer. Non-represented parties include individuals, commercial or government entities, owners corporation managers, non-bank lenders and property developers.

An owners corporation is responsible for the maintenance and administration of common property. Common property is a shared or common area as defined on a plan of subdivision and often includes areas such as communal driveways, stairwells and laundries. For example, most blocks of flats or units have an owners corporation.

A land parcel is an individual piece of land for which a land title has been issued.

A plan that depicts the joining together of two or more abutting titles.

A plan that depicts the break-up of a piece of land, showing parcels of land, commonly called ‘lots’, that can be sold separately.

Referral authorities include relevant servicing and statutory agencies such as water, gas and electricity suppliers. Referral authorities can impose conditions on proposed developments (E.g. water supply conditions).

A parcel of land owned by a single person.

Subdividing means dividing land into two or more parts that can be sold separately. A plan of subdivision is a diagram that shows the boundaries of this break-up.

Surveyors mark land boundaries – the lines that run between properties. They confirm existing boundaries, create new ones when land is subdivided or a development is being planned and provide advice on boundary issues.


Ownership of land by two or more people where each person is entitled to occupy the whole of the land in common with the others, but where none of them is entitled to the exclusive possession of the land. On the death of one of the proprietors, their share does not pass on to the survivors but passes to the executor or administrator of the deceased. You can specify that shares be equal or unequal, between people owning a parcel of land as tenants in common.

Changing ownership details on a title is known as a transfer of land.

The Victorian Water Register is the public register of all water-related entitlements in Victoria.

Volume and folios are unique identifiers used in the numbering system that identify individual land titles, relating to freehold land, Crown grants and Crown leases.