A caveat is a notice that a person claims an interest in a property. When used properly, a caveat can be quite useful in protecting one’s rights in relation to the subject property. However, many are unaware of the ramifications in lodging a caveat and can end up involved in complex legal proceedings and may even be liable to compensate anyone who suffers loss or damage as a result of lodging a caveat without reasonable grounds.
It is important when lodging a caveat that the person lodging the caveat (caveator) has an interest in the property. A caveat can be lodged by:
- a purchaser who is paying the purchase price in instalments, but is not the registered owner or a seller of the land who has received part of the instalments for the purchase price, but is no longer the registered owner
- a person with an equitable interest in the land under a contract of sale
- a person with a right of access to the land (eg by an unregistered easement); or
- a tenant under an unregistered lease.
It is very important to seek legal advice as to whether you have reasonable grounds prior to lodging a caveat, otherwise you could be liable to pay legal fees and compensation to the registered proprietor.
If a person with an interest in the property (the caveatee) intends for a caveator to establish the claim, they can provide notice under the Land Titles Act 1994 (Qld) which will require the caveator to commence legal proceedings within 14 days. If the caveator fails to comply with this time limit, the caveat lapses and may be removed from the register.
Our property and litigation lawyers have expert knowledge in relation to caveatable interests and would be happy to assist you if you think you have a caveatable interest in a property or if you wish to consider challenging the validity of a caveat registered over your property or to assist with negotiating the removal of a caveat.