Torrens Title System Law and Legal Definition

Torrens title system is a system of land registration in which clear title is established with a governmental authority that issues title certificates to owners. It is a method of registering titles to real estate. Real estate that is recorded using this method is also called registered property or Torrens property. The system was formulated in 1858 by Sir Robert R. Torrens, the then colonial Premier of South Australia to combat the problems of uncertainty, complexity and cost associated with old system title. The first U.S. Torrens system was enacted by Illinois in 1897.

In a Torrens system, a court or bureau of registration operates the system, with an examiner of titles and a registrar as the key officers. The landowner files a petition with the registrar to have the land registered. The examiner of titles reviews the legal history of the land to determine if good title exists. The registrar issues a certificate of title to the owner if good title exist. This certificate is conclusive as to the person's rights in the property and cannot be challenged or overcome by a court of law.

The drawback of the system is the initial cost of registering a property. The system is most effective when land is subdivided for the first time because it reduces the number of deed entries an examiner reviews.