Torrens Land Title System: Why it’s the best!

Torrens Land Title System

The Torrens system has been in use in Alberta since 1887 – and its main purpose is to simplify land transactions and to certify the ownership of an absolute title to realty. This system does away with the need for a chain of title;  tracing title through a series of documents. Today, a prospective buyer is not required to look beyond the record in the government-managed registry – providing an ease of service.

Most countries use one of three basic systems for land ownership and transfer. These are:

  1. Private Conveyancing: Documents are kept by the owner. Any person buying or selling this land, will require the seller to provide these documents going back over as many years as necessary to prove ownership of the land.
  2. Deeds Registration: All documents are sent to a central registry office, which indexes them under the same of the purchaser or grantee. The registry does not examine these documents or guarantee their legality.
  3. The Torrens System: A government office has custody of all original land titles and all original documents registered against them. Government staff examine and register the documents and issue the titles. The government then guarantees the accuracy of all the titles.

Torrens system follows three principles:

  1. The Mirror Principle: This refers to the “register” or certificate of title, which accurately and completely reflects the current facts about a person’s title. A title is free of adverse claims or burdens unless they are mentioned on the title.
  2. The Curtain Principle: The current certificate of title contains all the relevant information about the title. Thus, a potential purchases has nothing to worry about that is not being disclosed on the title.
  3. The Insurance Principle: This provides compensation for loss of rights through an Assurance Fund. The register reflects the absolutely correct status of the land, and if, through human error, a flaw appears and anyone suffers a loss, it is made right so far as money is able to compensate.

In other words the Torrens system helps buyers and sellers feel secure about conducting land ownership transactions; they do this by:

  1. Conclusive Evidence of Ownership:  This is called the principle of indefeasibility. Because the government has records of all land titles and is responsible for cataloguing and preserving them, buyers are guaranteed their land purchase  is exactly as the title describes
  2. Facility to Transfer: Title owners can transfer ownership to others more easily.
  3. Compulsory Registration of Titles: All titles must be registered in the governments land registry system. This ensures accurate records of all transactions are kept.
  4. An Assurance Fund: In the rare case that an owner is defrauded or suffers a financial loss due to some error in the land title system, an assurance fund is in place to compensate the owner for such losses. Suffering a loss in Alberta is extremely rare due to the accuracy of this system!


To conclude, the Torrens land title system is near perfect – extremely accurate, easy to use & cheap (Only $10 CAD to pull a title!) – no other land title system compares.

Example of an Alberta Land Title