Landgate’s Verification of Identity (VOI) requirements for property sellers within WA have been in place since July 2012. To date these measures have been an effective way of minimising the likelihood of fraudulent real estate transactions.
Since then, updates to the Land Titles Registration policies mean there is now a requirement for VOI for property buyers and those who lodge or withdraw caveats. These updated measures commenced on February 12th 2018, with a transitional period for represented parties until June 5th 2018.
Therefore VOI is now mandatory for anyone who wants their name to appear on a title, incoming proprietors and Caveators involved in a property transaction. So, it’s vital that agents don’t get caught out by inconsistencies on sales contracts and identifying documents for sellers and buyers. This may require that agents take further steps to avoid settlement complications and possible delays because these can cause challenges during settlement.
This was the case in a recent property transaction where there were discrepancies between a buyer’s legal and common use names.
In this instance the buyer, Tony Muzzo (not our client’s real name), had his offer accepted on a property. His O&A recorded this as his full name. However, when we came to complete his VOI there were issues.
Tony’s passport showed his name as Antonio Joe Muzzo, but his driver’s licence listed it as Antonio Muzzo. So there were inconsistencies across his key identifying documents and the O&A.
To complete the VOI process Tony had to provide his original birth certificate to verify his correct legal name. However, as Tony had immigrated to Australia as a teenager, it took him weeks to do this. Plus, once we had received his birth certificate and verified his legal name as Antonio Joe Muzzo, his bank then required a variation to the contract of sale to show his full legal name.
The real estate agent had to instruct Tony to make this change to the O&A, and have the seller approve the variation. This involved additional time and threatened to delay settlement, which was stressful for all parties. However, if the agent had asked to view Tony’s passport and driver’s licence prior to completing the O&A, the issue could have been addressed…and the stress avoided.
This story serves as a timely reminder and highlights the importance of correct use of full legal names on documents and the vital nature of the VOI process for both buyers and sellers.
Image by Diana Parkhouse Flickr