What is conveyancing?

“Conveyance” is defined by the The Australian Oxford Dictionary to mean “the transfer of property from one owner to another”. Conveyancing has the corresponding meaning so when we talk about the law of conveyancing we are talking about the laws relating to the transfer of property. This is likely to be a simplification, as it is generally accepted that conveyancing relates to many matters dealing with property and not just strictly speaking the transfer process.

The task of the conveyancer is to ensure that title to land is ‘conveyed’ from the vendor (seller) to the purchaser. It is not the task of the conveyancer to ensure that the quality of the property being purchased is up to the standard expected by the purchaser.


It is important to consider the time frame in which most conveyancing transactions take place. It is always finite and usually within the range of 4 to 6 weeks. The work to be completed within that time frame is considerable and requires organisational skill as well as legal knowledge. If problems arise, they need to be addressed promptly and dealt with competently.


While it can be said that a mortgage transaction is not a ‘conveyancing’ transaction, the reality is that most purchasers require finance to complete the purchase and that finance will be secured by a mortgage.


Many residential properties are tenanted at the time they are listed for sale. It may be the intention of the vendor to sell the property with the tenant or to arrange for the tenant to vacate after a purchaser has been found. In either case, it is important to understand the effect of the Residential Tenancies Act and its impact on conveyancing transactions. Similarly, many commercial properties are occupied by tenants under either retail leases pursuant to the Retail Leases Act or commercial leases. With commercial property it is often the case that a sale is with the tenant as the lease has not expired and the property is being acquired for investment purposes. The effect of the relevant statutory provisions and how they impact on the vendor and purchaser must be understood and appropriate advice given to the client.

Other interests and dealings

Other matters that might affect a property and any dealing with it are forestry rights, easements, profits a prendre, water rights, restrictions as to use, positive covenants, sub-leases, unregistered short-term leases. This listing is not exhaustive.

Independent Civil Conveyancing will help you understand your rights in the conveyancing process.

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