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Buyer beware! There's a caveat there!

What is a caveat?

The registration of a caveat over the title to land (includes units, houses and any real property) prevents any dealing such as a transfer or a mortgage over the property from being registered.

Caveats serve as red flags to potential buyers of a property that someone else is claiming an interest in a property. In fact, the Latin translation of ‘caveat’ means ‘may he beware of’!

What if someone owes you money - are you entitled to lodge a caveat to prevent property from being sold and to secure payment? The fact that someone owes you money does not in itself allow you to lodge a caveat.

What is a caveatable interest?

In order to register a caveat against the land of another in Queensland, you must have a ‘caveatable interest’. A caveatable interest means that a person has a current legal or equitable interest in land.

Some examples of caveatable interests include:

  • the interest of a purchaser under an agreement for the sale of land;
  • option-holders with options to purchase the land in question;
  • an undertaking to execute a mortgage or an agreement to give a mortgage.

Before you rush to lodge to a caveat, you need to be aware that registering a caveat without reasonable cause can be serious and require compensation to be paid to anyone else who suffers loss or damage as a result.

It is very important to seek legal advice to establish if you have a caveatable interest prior to lodging a caveat.

When does a caveat lapse?

To lodge a caveat you must follow strict legislative requirements set out in the Land Title Act 1994 (Qld). Failure to comply may mean that the caveat will be ineffective.

In Queensland, a caveat will lapse (be removed):

  • within 3 months of lodgement of the caveat; or
  • a shorter period where the caveator (the person that lodged the caveat) fails to commence Court proceedings in Queensland to establish the interest claimed in the caveat, within 14 days after receiving a notice to commence proceedings from the land owner; or
  • where the land owner commences Court proceedings in Queensland to remove the caveat; or
  • where the caveator lodges a notice with the Registrar to withdraw the caveat; or
  • the Registrar cancels the caveat on request (and is satisfied that a caveatable interest does not exist).

How can we help?

We have extensive experience in advising clients on what constitutes a caveatable interest and what is required to register or remove caveats from the land register.

If you would like more information, please contact us on 07 5443 9988 or [email protected].

Argon Law is a Sunshine Coast law firm based in Maroochydore.  We are commercial and property lawyers and are eager to assist you in any way we can.

Always ensure you seek professional advice for your specific circumstances.  The above is not advice and is intended to be general in nature only.

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