What is a Caveat?

A caveat is a type of statutory injunction preventing the registration of particular dealings with real property (i.e. real estate). It is a formal public notice or warning advising that there is an interest on the property for a particular reason.

The word caveat means ‘beware’ and lodging a caveat warns anyone dealing with the property that someone claims a priority interest in that property. The person lodging a caveat is a caveator.

Reasons for Lodging a Caveat

If you have a genuine interest in land (such as a registered mortgage), you may lodge a caveat to prevent registration of another dealing and protect your legal position. This is known as a caveatable interest.

Caveatable interests include:

  • a registered or equitable mortgage
  • a transfer
  • a purchaser under an agreement for sale
  • a tenant (in certain circumstances);
  • a registered proprietor and
  • contractual rights.

In NSW, the Real Property Act 1900 governs caveats. When a caveat is lodged at NSW Land Registry Services (NSWLRS), it prevents the registration of further dealings on the property’s title until the caveat:

  • is formally withdrawn by the caveator;
  • lapses;
  • is removed by a court order; or
  • the caveator consents to a registration by another party dealing with the property’s title.

Anyone with an interest in land or who wishes to claim an interest may lodge a caveat. A caveat can also be lodged by someone with an Australian court order restraining a registered proprietor from dealing with the property.

In NSW lodgement of caveats is electronic by a subscriber to PEXA (such as a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer).

What Detail Does a Caveat Require?

In NSW, when lodging a caveat, you need to include:

  • the caveator’s name and residential address or registered office, including an address for service of notices;
  • the name and address of the registered proprietor (we suggest that you do a title search to ensure the correctness of the information);
  • reference details for which the caveat relates;
  • particulars of the legal or equitable estate of interest;
  • a verified statutory declaration; and
  • the signature of the caveator, lawyer or another agent of the caveator.

What if I Incorrectly Lodge a Caveat Without a Caveatable Interest?

Only someone with a caveatable interest can lodge a caveat. Lodging a caveat without reasonable cause is a serious matter. A court may order you to compensate anyone who suffers a financial loss as a result of your incorrect caveat.

Challenging or Removing a Caveat

Ways in which a caveat can be challenged or removed include the property owner issuing a lapsing notice and the caveator submitting a withdrawal of caveat form.

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