One is appetising, the other (a Caveat) is less so but is a legal right.
A caveat (from the Latin word for ‘let him beware’) is a warning or caution. If a person has an unregistered interest in real estate, a caveat can be lodged to give notice of their interest and prevent any further dealings with a property until the interest can be registered.
For example, a father loans money to his son for the purpose of purchasing a house. The father decides not to register the loan against the Title. After a few years, the son and his wife separate. As part of the property settlement, the house needs to be sold. The father can lodge a caveat as a preliminary step to protect his interest (i.e. the balance of the loan) before the property is sold and the money disbursed.
But it does not end there….
Once a caveat is registered, the Caveatee (person against whom the caveat is directed) can object to the caveat. If objected, the caveat will be removed within 21 days unless the Caveator (person lodging the caveat) can get a court order to extend the time until the dispute is resolved.
In other words, lodging a caveat is only the initial step. This needs to be followed by a Supreme Court order to ensure that the caveat can remain until the issue has been resolved.
There are significant costs associated with this process and legal advice needs to be sought to ensure there are proper grounds to keep the caveat. Furthermore, where a Caveator has lodged a caveat unnecessarily he or she may be liable to pay compensation.
One of the most common misconceptions is that a person can lodge a caveat when another owes them money. This is not the case. Caveats can only be registered if you have an interest in the land itself.
If you need advice on registering a caveat, please contact us on (08) 8664 1162 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was written by Melanie Rego.