“Caveat” comes from the Latin terms “caveat emptor”, meaning “let the buyer beware” and “caveat venditor”, meaning “let the seller beware”.
A caveat is a registration over a property title notifying others that you have an interest in that property. This tells those wishing to, say, transfer or sell the property that they need to satisfy your interest first. It warns of an interest over the property for a seller, buyer, or other interested person to be aware of.
A caveat may be lodged:
Sections 121–131 of the Land Titles Act 1994 is the legislation that deals with the lodging of caveats in Queensland.
To lodge a caveat over a property, you must have what’s called a “caveatable interest” in the property.
You cannot lodge a caveat over someone’s property simply because they owe you money unrelated to the property. You must have an interest in the property itself.
You should consider carefully whether you have a caveatable interest before you lodge a caveat. If a Court finds that a person does not have sufficient basis to lodge a caveat, they may be ordered to pay:
Depending on the circumstances, these costs and losses can be significant.
You can avoid the risk of adverse orders against you by obtaining legal advice from a property litigation lawyer to determine whether you have a caveatable interest in a property. A property dispute lawyer can also assess your situation and decide whether lodging a caveat is the best way forward, having regard to all options available to you.
In QLD, caveats are lodged with the Queensland Titles Registry by filing a Form 11.
The person registering an interest in the property is known as the “caveator”. The form must include their details, a description of the lot or part of a lot which they are registering an interest over, the interest claimed and the grounds on which it is claimed.
The registry will review and register the caveat if it meets the requirements, however, registration is not confirmation that the interest exists or is a caveatable interest. Only a Court can make findings on whether there is a caveatable interest in a property.
There are lodgement fees to file a caveat in the Titles Registry. You can use their Fee Calculator to determine the applicable fee. You must also consider the costs involved in the process following lodgement.
Putting a caveat on a property prevents the property from being dealt with, for the time being, to allow any disputes to be decided or for your interest to be registered. It is only a temporary measure, however, if the land owner has not consented to the lodgement of the caveat. You must therefore take steps promptly for your registered interest over the property to be maintained.
If the caveat was lodged due to a dispute, you must commence proceedings against the property owner for it to be maintained. The time within which you must commence proceedings depends on the actions of the property owner, or “caveatee”.
If no action is taken, the caveat will lapse after 3 months if you have not commenced Court proceedings and notified the Titles Registry of the proceedings. You cannot lodge a caveat claiming the same interest over the land if your caveat is allowed to lapse.
There are certain steps the caveatee can take to force you to bring Court proceedings sooner if you wish to keep the caveat. They can issue a notice that you begin Court proceedings within 14 days. If you do not abide by this notice, the caveat can be removed.
The caveatee can also apply to the Supreme Court of Queensland for the caveat to be removed without giving you 14 days’ notice. If the caveatee makes this application, you must prove certain things for the caveat to be maintained.
In circumstances where the caveat is removed by Court order, you may also be ordered to pay the caveatee’s costs of bringing the application.
You should be prepared to comply with the timeframes involved and argue any application brought to remove the caveat. It is therefore in your interest to engage a lawyer from the outset. We are able to:
Proper experience in dealing with caveats and property disputes is essential. Aitken Whyte Lawyers are focused on results and have significant relevant experience in dealing with caveats and related commercial litigation.
Our Litigation and Dispute Resolution Team can advise you if you need to protect your interest in a property. We can detail the proper course to take if you are involved in a property or land dispute.
Aitken Whyte Lawyers can help you with all property dispute matters.
Aitken Whyte Lawyers
11/8 Pikki Street,
Maroochydore Qld 4558
Ph: +617 5408 0655
Fax: +617 3211 9311