Property Dispute Lawyers
Dispute Resolution & Litigation
Helping you resolve disputes over property
We understand that real estate is essential to your financial stability and livelihood. We’re here to help you protect your interest in property and resolve any conflict that arises quickly.
We provide advice and representation for owners, co-owners, tenants, landlords, real estate agents, buyers, sellers, and body corporates/owners’ corporations regarding all property matters and conflicts. Our professional dispute resolution lawyers will ensure relationships are maintained, and all aspects of the matter are considered and dealt with fairly to ensure your rights are supported.
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A caveat is a notice on land that stops certain actions being taken with the property (including the sale or the mortgaging of the property). People lodge caveats for many reasons, commonly because they are owed money or because there are competing interests in the property. However, one does not automatically have a right to lodge a caveat. To lodge a caveat, you must have what is called a “caveatable interest”.
A person must have a caveatable interest in land if they wish to lodge a caveat over the title of that land. A caveatable interest arises if a person has a legal or equitable interest in land. It is important to understand the risks associated with lodging a caveat before doing so. A caveat cannot be lodged without reasonable cause. If someone improperly lodges a caveat, they may be liable for damages and legal costs to the owner of the property if the owner suffers damages as result of the caveat having been lodged.
The registration of a caveat over the title of land (units, houses and vacant land) acts as an injunction which prevents any further dealings taking place in relation to the land (for example, the sale or transfer of ownership of a property). Caveats serve as red flags and a warning sign for potential purchasers of a property that someone else is claiming an interest in that property. The Latin translation of ‘caveat’ means ‘may he beware of’.
Most people don’t understand the consequences of lodging a caveat and often end up embroiled in complex, expensive legal proceedings.
There are vastly different legislative requirements for the process of lodging and maintaining a caveat in NSW and QLD. Attwood Marshall Lawyers are experts in both jurisdictions.
There are several ways that a caveat can be removed. In NSW, the most common way is by issuing a Lapsing Notice. A Lapsing Notice is issued by the owner of the property and then served on the person who has lodged the caveat.
The caveator (the person who lodges the caveat) has 21 days from the date of being served with a Lapsing Notice to obtain an order from the Supreme Court to extend the operation of the caveat. If an order is granted, it must be lodged with the LPI (the titles office) before the 21-day period expires. If that process is not taken by the caveator before the 21 days expires, the caveat will lapse (be removed from the title of the property).
In Queensland, caveats generally automatically lapse three months after registration unless Court proceedings are commenced which set out the alleged grounds for the caveat, and the appropriate notice of that action filed with the QLD Titles Office. Also, an owner (a registered proprietor of land) can issue a notice on the caveator to force them to commence proceedings within 14 days from the issuance of that notice. In those circumstances, if a court proceeding is not commenced within that shorter timeframe, the caveat can be removed from title (much earlier than the 3-month automatic lapsing period).
The removal of a caveat (in both states) can be a complex process which can vary significantly depending on the type of interest asserted in the subject property. It is important to speak with a dispute resolution specialist as soon as possible to determine the best course of action.
It is important that legal advice is sought if your caveat is lapsed or removed because another caveat cannot be lodged over the title of the same property on the same or similar grounds without leave of the Court.
This situation arises frequently particularly between family members, de facto partners and friends. You might have contributed money towards the purchase or improvement of a property under a misapprehension that you owned, or would come to own, part of the property. In the fullness of time, however, you come to realise that you are not a registered legal owner and you probably therefore have grounds to lodge a caveat to protect your interest in the property. You should seek advice immediately so that one of our solicitors can assist you in acquiring your legal interest in a property or by obtaining compensation in relation to your interest.
This is a common situation between family members, de facto partners and friends. You might have been promised a property as repayment for a debt, or for caring for your elderly parents, however, the property is being sold and/or you’re being forcibly removed. Do not delay getting advice about your rights. You need to seek legal advice immediately to best protect your interest.