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A caveat is a legal means of protecting an interest that you might have in a piece of land. For instance, you may have an option agreement to purchase a plot of land. In that case, a caveat would protect that piece of land from being sold without your knowledge or consent. However, caveats can slow or block other agreements or deals concerning the land. Therefore, it is important to know how you can remove a caveat. This article will summarise what a caveat is, how you can remove a caveat that you lodged yourself, and how you can remove a caveat that somebody else has lodged. 

What Is a Caveat?

A caveat protects your legitimate interest in a piece of land. It warns future buyers or prospective buyers that you have some form of claim to that piece of land. It prevents the land from being sold until your caveat, or legitimate claim has been removed. 

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) is the organisation responsible for managing registered caveats and the process for applying for one. To lodge a caveat, you must be able to show your interest in the land. Likewise, you need t show how your interest relates to the land’s registered owner. You cannot lodge a caveat without this kind of interest. 

There are different kinds of interests that can be protected by caveats. Common examples include if you are a current purchaser in the process of buying the piece of land; or if you have an option agreement to purchase the land at a future date from the existing owner.

If I Lodged the Caveat, How Do I Remove It?

It is simple to remove a caveat that you have lodged yourself. You need to sign an authority and instruction document through LINZ. It is usually a good idea to first get legal advice before doing so if the request to remove the caveat has come from the land-owner or another party. Given that, to have the caveat in the first place, you must have a legitimate interest in the piece of land, you should be clear on why you want to remove it now. 

Note that given the seriousness of removing a caveat, you will need to sign the documents yourself in most circumstances – a lawyer or other agent cannot do it on your behalf. However, you can still get legal advice and support from LINZ. 

If Someone Else Lodged the Caveat, How Do I Remove It?

The easiest way to remove a caveat that somebody else has lodged is to ask them to withdraw it. If they accept, then the simple process outlined above will follow. However, if they refuse to remove their caveat, there are processes you can follow to challenge their caveat and potentially get it removed. 

In instances where there is a caveat registered on the land you own, or otherwise have an interest in, you can apply to LINZ to have the caveat “lapsed” (in other words, removed). However, you will need to make an argument that the caveat was wrongfully recorded, or otherwise not legitimate. At this stage, it is best to consult with a lawyer. 

After you make your application to LINZ, the caveator (the person who lodged the caveat you want removed) will have to make an application to stop their caveat from lapsing. They will then need to prove their caveatable interest exists and is legitimate. If they cannot do so, the caveat will be removed. They may also have to pay compensation to the land-owner.

The High Court can also make an order to remove a particular caveat, which is typically a sought-for remedy during litigation over a caveated piece of land. 

Key Takeaways

Caveats protect legitimate interests in land, and stop the land from being sold until that caveat is removed. Land Information New Zealand, usually known as LINZ, is responsible for managing registered caveats and associated processes. To lodge a caveat in the first place, you must be able to show your interest in the land and how your interest relates to the land’s registered owner. 

There are three ways to remove a caveat. First, and simplest, is when you have lodged the caveat yourself. Then, you can simply execute the documents provided by LINZ to remove the caveat. This is also the simplest solution if someone else has a caveat in land you own: convincing that person to remove their caveat. Second, you can apply to LINZ to lapse someone else’s caveat. They will then need to prove their legitimate interest in the land, or their caveat will be removed, and you may be paid compensation. Lastly, the High Court can make an order to remove a caveat. 

If you want to know more about removing caveats, feel free to call LegalVision’s property lawyers on 0800 005 570, or complete the form on this page.

FAQs

What is a caveat?

A caveat is a legal protection of an interest you have in a particular piece of land, such as land you are about to buy. For instance, it stops the owner of that land from selling it to someone else.

What do I do if someone refuses to remove their caveat on my land?

You can seek to have it removed through applying to LINZ. You can seek to have their caveat “lapsed,” and they will need to prove they still have a legitimate interest in the piece of land. If they cannot do so, it will be removed.

Why would I want a caveat removed?

Caveats can block a piece of land from being sold or included in other deals, at least until the caveat is removed.

Who do I contact with questions about a caveat?

Land Information New Zealand, or LINZ, manage the process for registering and maintaining caveats. They are the organisation to contact if you want to lodge a caveat, ask questions about the process, or seek to remove a caveat.

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