A caveat is a hold that is placed on a property by a party that has a vested interest. There are numerous reasons that a caveat can be placed on a property. This blog will go through what a caveat is, how to put a caveat on a property, who can put a caveat on a property and how to remove a caveat on your property.
The word caveat in Latin means ‘beware’ but a caveat in Australian property terms is not always as sinister as the word implies. Put simply, a caveat is a hold or freeze that is placed on a property that restricts the current owner from certain kinds of dealings. The person who places a caveat on a property, known as the caveator, is formally registering their priority interest in that property.
Why is a caveat placed?
There are several reasons why a caveat is placed.
Some of the most common reasons for placing a caveat on a property can include:
Registered or equitable mortgage
When you take out a mortgage on a property or land with a bank or financial institution, the institution has a vested financial interest until the debt is paid in full.
Purchase of property or land
The time between signing a contract of sale for the purchase of land or property and the settlement date places the property in a legal grey area. A caveat is placed on the property for this time to ensure that the buyer’s right to the property is officially registered.
A buyer with an option to purchase land
When you have an option to purchase land, it means that you have priority for the land purchase for an agreed window of time. A caveat in this circumstance would protect the buyer’s interests in freezing the land until the purchase is completed or the option period expires.
A registered proprietor may place a caveat on land to prevent any unwanted dealings on the property and to protect his/her interests in the land.
If a will is being disputed, the person disputing will typically place a caveat on any property or land to halt the executors from receiving a grant of probate while the dispute is being heard by the courts.
Can I put a caveat on a property?
If you have an interest in a particular property for any reason, you may be able to place a caveat.
Additional reasons that would justify you placing a caveat can include:
- If you are a tenant with some claim on the property
- If you are a party who benefits from an easement or restrictive covenant on the land
- If you have contractual rights to the property
- In some cases, if a debt is owed to you
How to put a caveat on a property
If you are involved in court or legal proceedings where property or land is involved, your lawyer may place a caveat on a property on your behalf. If you think that you may need to place a caveat on a property, then our team at Kidman Conveyancing can assist you with the process. The process involved in staking your legal claim on property or land is not a straightforward one, so it is always best to seek advice from experienced legal professionals if you are choosing to go down that road.
If you attempt to wrongly place a caveat on a property, there can be fines or legal ramifications involved so it is always best to seek advice before engaging in this process. If you have a caveatable interest in a property, the person applying on your behalf will require the following information from you:
- Your full name and current residential address or registered office address
- The name and address of the person registered as the proprietor of the property or land in question
- As many details as possible regarding how you have a legal interest in the property
- Supporting evidence for your application such as contracts or any other documents
- A statutory declaration that has been verified by an authorised person
- Your signature, or the signature of your lawyer or another agent acting on your behalf
How to remove a caveat on your property
All caveats in Western Australia are governed by the land titles office.
If you want to remove a caveat on your property, there are a number of ways that this can be done.
The simplest way to go about this is for the caveator to withdraw it. Negotiating with the caveator should always be the first step towards seeking the removal of a caveat from your property.
Action by the registrar
A registered landowner can serve a caveator with a 21-day notice that a caveat will lapse unless they obtain an order from the Supreme Court and lodge a copy of the order with the Registrar.
Action by the commissioner
The Commissioner of Titles in Western Australia can instruct that a caveat be withdrawn by the caveator if they believe that they no longer have an interest in the property. Applications can be made to the Commissioner or they can opt to remove the caveat of their own accord.
Action by the supreme court
Applications can be made to the Supreme Court of WA for the removal of a caveat on a property. This is a costly path to take for the removal of a caveat, so should only be opted for if no other avenue can be pursued.
Choose a legal professional to assist with caveats
From the initial question of what is a caveat on a property through to advice on the best method for the removal of a caveat, it is best to employ the services of a legal professional in this field.
At Kidman Conveyancing, we specialise in providing legal services to property owners and purchasers. From sale settlements to the intricate details of caveats, we can help you with whatever legal property services you require.
For expert advice on how to place or remove a caveat on a property, contact our skilled team today.