Off-the-plan conveyancing is full of confusing legal terminology that can be hard to understand. To help, we’ve created this A-Z guide explaining some of the most common terms.

Administrative fund levy

This is a levy paid to your owners’ corporation to cover day-to-day costs such as council expenses, insurance, management fees, lifts and equipment servicing, and pool and common area maintenance.

Certificate of title

The official document showing who owns a property. The document also shows any existing mortgages, covenants or third-party interests in the property.

Contract of sale

A legally binding document covering the transfer of a property from a seller to a buyer.

Cooling-off period

Once the contract of sale has been signed, buyers are given a grace period of three business days. During this time they can choose to walk away from the contract without facing a financial penalty. 


A covenant is an agreement registered on the title that creates an obligation on the owner. Covenants are commonly used to either:

  • Restrict you from doing something, such as using the property for business purposes
  • Oblige you to do something, such as maintain a boundary


These are payments you make to your conveyancer to cover their out-of-pocket expenses during the home buying process. Disbursements could include title searches, building and pest inspections, certificate fees, and registering the title transfer.


This is when a third party is granted the legal right to use part of someone else’s property for a specific purpose. A common example would be when a water authority has the right to use someone’s land to provide sewerage or drainage services.


A claim or interest on a property by a party who is not the owner. Common examples include mortgages, easements and covenants.

Joint tenants

Joint ownership of a property in which the co-owners do not own separate, distinct shares in the property. This means if one of the co-owners passes away, their share in the property automatically passes to the other – irrespective of what their will says. Typically, married or de facto couples hold property as joint tenants.

Owners’ corporation

Formerly known as a body corporate, the owners’ corporation manages the common property of your residential development. 


The day on which a buyer legally takes possession of their property.

Sinking fund levy

A levy charged by the owners’ corporation. The payment goes into a sinking fund which is used to cover the cost of major capital works or emergency repairs.

Strata title

This is a form of ownership created for off-the-plan apartment blocks. The strata title consists of the individual apartments as well as joint ownership of the shared areas such as driveways, lobbies and pools.

Sunset clause

In an off-the-plan contract, a sunset clause is typically a date by which a developer must complete the project. If they don’t, the contract of sale is no longer valid and the buyer can pull out of the deal with no penalty.


Joint ownership of a property in which the co-owners own distinct shares in the property. These shares don’t have to be equal. If one of the co-owners passes away, their share in the property does not automatically pass to the other.

Transfer duty

Also known as stamp duty, this is a government tax paid on all property transactions in Australia. The amount varies depending on the value of the property and where you live. If you are a first home buyer, you may be eligible for a concession or an exemption.

Rhiannon Leonard is a conveyancing lawyer at Off the Plan Conveyancer.

Buying or selling an off-the-plan property? Get an expert off-the-plan conveyancer on your team. Call Off The Plan Conveyancer on 03 9070 9810.