What is a property caveat?

Owning a property in Queensland or attempting to buy a property that has a caveat lodged against it can be enormously frustrating.

But what is a caveat and how do you deal with it?

A caveat is a legal term for a type of interest in a property that prevents it from being sold or dealt with in other ways by the property owners.

When a caveat is lodged against a property, it’s usually because someone is attempting to protect any interest they have in that property. There are strict rules surrounding what that means, and the person must be able to prove they have an equitable interest connected to the property.

A caveat must be lodged with both the Lands Titles Office and the Department of Natural Resources. Caveats in Queensland must now be lodged electronically.

Why would someone lodge a caveat?

A caveat may be lodged:

  • To protect a person’s interest, such as when you and the property owner have signed a contract of sale; or
  • Because there is a property or land dispute that must be dealt with by the court

When a caveat is lodged, it is recorded on the property title, and the registered owner and anyone else with an interest in the property is notified.

While the caveat exists, there can be no further dealings on the property – including a sale.

There are four ways to remove a caveat in Queensland:

  • The caveat lapses
  • By applying to the Supreme Court
  • The registrar cancels the caveat
  • The person who lodged the caveat withdraws it

Most caveats lapse after three months if no further legal action is pending. 

How will I know if there is a caveat on my property?

Your solicitor or conveyancer will perform title searches as part of their job. This will reveal any registered interest in the property, including caveats. They will then advise you of the best way forward.

If you’re contemplating lodging a caveat against a property, you should take legal advice before making your decision.

If the court finds you have insufficient basis for lodging a caveat, you could be ordered to pay the other party’s legal costs, and any damages including if a sale has fallen through. These costs and losses could be significant.

The property experts here at Bickell & Mackenzie can help you find out if there’s a caveat lodged against a property you’re interested in and advise you on the next steps to take.

This can be a complex area of law and it’s vital you have the right people helping you. Contact our office today to make an appointment.





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