A caveat is a type of statutory injunction preventing the registration of particular dealings with real property. A caveat acts as a warning or formal notice to tell the public that there is an interest on the land or property for a particular reason. The word caveat means ‘beware’ and lodging a caveat on real property warns anyone dealing with the property that someone has a priority interest in that property. The party who lodges a caveat is known as a caveator. We explain below how to lodge a caveat and why you may need to do so.

Lodging a Caveat

Each state and territory has an individual system of lodging caveats. For example, in NSW, the Real Property Act 1900 governs caveats. In NSW, when a caveat is lodged at the Land & Property Information (LPI), it effectively prevents the registration of further dealings on the property’s title until the caveat is the following:

  • Formally withdrawn by the caveator; or
  • Lapses; or
  • Removed by an order of the Court; or 
  • The caveator consents to another’s registration dealing with the property’s title.

Any person with an interest in land or wishes to claim an estate may lodge a caveat. A person who has an Australian court order restraining the registered proprietor from dealing with a property can also lodge a caveat.

What Detail is Required on a Caveat?

In NSW, when completing a caveat for lodgment, you are required to include the following information:

  • Caveator’s name and residential address/registered office including an address where notices can be served;
  • Name and address of the registered proprietor (we recommend that you complete a title search to ensure this information is correct);
  • 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, solicitor or another agent of the caveator.

Why Lodge a Caveat?

If you have an estate or interest in land through which registration of another dealing cannot protect, you may consider lodging a caveat to protect your legal position. This is known as a caveatable interest. You must ensure that this interest in the land is present at the time you are lodging the caveat.

Caveatable interests include a registered or equitable mortgage, transfer, a purchaser under an agreement for sale, a tenant (in certain circumstances), a registered proprietor and contractual rights.

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

Only a person who has a caveatable interest is entitled to lodge a caveat or to instruct their lawyer to lodge a caveat on their behalf. Lodging a caveat without reasonable cause is a serious matter, and you may be liable to compensate any person who suffers a resulting pecuniary loss. 

Challenging or Removing Caveats

A caveat can be challenged or removed in a number of ways, including a Lapsing Notice or submitting a Withdrawal of Caveat form. We have published three articles about removing a caveat in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland:

Legislation Governing Caveats

State/Territory Legislation
Australian Capital Territory Land Titles Act 1925 (ACT)
New South Wales Real Property Act 1900 (NSW)
Queensland Land Title Act 1994 (QLD)
Victoria Transfer of Land Act 1958 (VIC)
South Australia Real Property Act 1886 (SA)
Northern Territory Land Title Act 2000 (NT)
Western Australia Transfer of Land Act 1893 (WA)
Tasmania Land Titles Act 1980 (TAS)

Key Takeaways

Before lodging a caveat, take steps to ensure you have a caveatable interest in the property otherwise you may be liable to pay compensation to the wronged parties. If you need advice on your caveatable interest or assistance with drafting a caveat, get in touch with our commercial lawyers. Fill out the form on this page or call us on 1300 544 755.

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