The final step with plans which need to be registered with Land and Property Information NSW is the plan lodgment and registration process. At Doherty Smith & Associates, we make every effort to ensure this process is smooth and trouble free, but when dealing with factors outside our control, disasters can happen!

Lease on Title

A business premises was to be subdivided by Strata subdivision. After a long development application approval process, preparation of a new base plan, reports by structural engineers, adding connections for services including a water connection with water meter and a lengthy Subdivision Certificate process with Council, the plan was finally ready to be lodged for registration.

During preparation for lodging the plan, it became apparent that there was a lease recorded on the title for one of the two premises on the site. When a lease is noted on a title and a subdivision is proposed, the lease holder must give consent to the subdivision. This was pointed out to the land owner, who explained that the lease was not current due to a falling out with the lessee. Doherty Smith & Associates were instructed to lodge the plan, while the owner took steps to either obtain consent or remove the lease. Tensions between the two parties on the lease came to a head when consent for the subdivision was requested – and refused. The owner resolved to have the lease revoked, and started this process immediately.

Soon thereafter, a requisition was received on this lodgement due to an error when the bank signed the plan. The bank had used an incorrect mortgage number which required the plan to be returned to the bank and endorsed for the correct mortgage number.

The revocation of the lease became a long and drawn out process. The application was lost and resubmitted before eventually the lease was removed from the title. The plan was eventually registered almost 12 months after being lodged. It is doubtful whether this land owner will ever attempt land development in future!

Bank losing documents

A plan was prepared on land burdened by a mortgage. The plan was signed by Council and the land owner, then sent to the bank to be signed. This is a routine process, usually taking about 14 days. After about a month, Doherty Smith & Associates started calling the bank, writing letters and emails. Eventually, the bank informed Doherty Smith & Associates that the plan had been lost!

A new plan was prepared, and arrangements were made for Council and the land owner to sign the plan. In the elapsed time, the land had been sold. The new owners were not thrilled to find out about an unregistered plan affecting their land, but eventually agreed to sign the plan. They also had a mortgage – with the same bank.

The plan was sent to the bank again, with notice that it was being submitted. This time, the plan was delivered to the branch in person and a receipt for the documents was signed by the bank. Again, Doherty Smith & Associates became concerned with the time taken for the plan to be signed, and began calling, emailing and writing letters to the bank. After a long period with very little response from the bank, Doherty Smith & Associates started pushing harder and insisting on an answer. Almost 12 months later, the bank admitted to losing the plan
again!

For the third time, Doherty Smith & Associates arranged for the Council and land owners to sign the plan, and began preparing a formal complaint to the bank. A specific person at the bank was contacted to let them know that the plan would be resubmitted to them, giving them a date when the plan would be dispatched and asking that they contact Doherty Smith & Associates when the plan was received. The plan was then sent by registered post. No call was received from the bank, so Doherty Smith & Associates began chasing again! In the meantime, a formal complaint had been lodged with the complaints department of the bank.

After a series of phone calls and an escalation of the complaint, the bank admitted that the plan had not been received, despite Doherty Smith & Associates providing the registered post slip saying who had collected the mail. The plan was declared lost for a fourth time!

Doherty Smith & Associates now pursued the formal complaint further. A contact at the bank was assigned to the case, and a new copy of the plan was handed to him in person. At the time of writing, this horror story is still unresolved, after over three years!

Lessons learned

Doherty Smith & Associates have learned a few lessons from these horror stories and have added this information to our quality assurance system. Items on our checklist now include ensuring that banks have signed with the correct mortgage number and ensuring that leases are dealt with prior to lodgement of the plan for registration. Doherty Smith & Associates has an excellent document tracking system including a log of phone calls, which has been invaluable in the case where the bank is constantly losing the plan. Clients can be comfortable that Doherty Smith & Associates track their documents during the process of plan lodgement and registration, take any problems seriously, and resolve issues in the shortest time possible.

Eric Smith

Registered Surveyor