In another step towards the complete transition to paperless electronic conveyancing in NSW, the Conveyancing Legislation Amendments Bill 2018 (the Bill) has passed through the State Parliament and was assented to on Thursday, 22 November 2018. The Bill permits witnesses to electronically sign certain conveyancing and real property documents.
The PEXA platform has already transformed the conveyancing process of buying and selling real estate into an online collaborative experience.
This recent change to witnessing requirements is a game changer in the leasing world for real estate agents, landlords and tenants, in that the turn around time for execution of real property leases and residential tenancy agreements will be significantly reduced.
Currently a NSW Lease, Sub-lease, Variation or Surrender of Lease are not able to be lodged for registration at NSW Lands Registry via the PEXA platform however those document types are scheduled for deployment in the first half of 2019. This will go even further in bringing lease transactions into the paperless digital world.
Industry body REINSW welcomes the legislation change allowing electronic witnessing, with CEO Tim McKibbin saying, “This is good for agents, landlords and tenants… Times are changing, and technology is playing a more pivotal role in the property services industry and this amendment will bring the industry in line with other industries embracing technology and streamline business practices.”
Despite their convenience for businesses, there are some legal risks to be aware of in using electronic signatures as follows:
- It is crucial to ensure only authorised persons can use an e-signature (passwords and log-in details are necessary).
- System security should be a priority with use of “dual authentication” for access to digital signing platforms.
- It is good practice to send a follow up email to a signatory who has signed electronically seeking confirmation that they authorised their electronic signature to be affixed to a document (for the signature to be legally valid, the person who affixed the signature must have had the actual or ostensible authority of the signatory to do so).
- For international transactions (in which e-signatures can be very convenient given the geography involved) make sure the laws in the other country permit electronic signatures (at present not all countries have ratified the UN Convention which dictates that electronic signatures are to be treated in the same way as handwritten signatures).
For more information in relation to this legislation change or any aspect of leasing or conveyancing, please contact KS Law.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist individual advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
 REINSW, REINSW lobbying pays off: electronic signing passed REINSW online newsroom 23 November 2018