Caveats and home ownership in Singapore
A caveat is a legal document lodged with the Singapore Land Authority by a person with an interest in land or property. Frequently, it is lodged by a purchaser to protect his interest in that property after an option to purchase is exercised or a Sales & Purchase Agreement is signed.
The effect of a caveat is to prevent any further or contradictory dealings with the property from being registered, serving as a “chope” to that property until it is officially conveyed to the new owner.
Therefore, before you sign the papers to purchase property, the property agent or the lawyers involved would perform a title search for you to ensure that there are no pre-existing caveats or encumbrances to the property. To do a title search, please visit INLIS, or this guide for more information. The URA also offers a search function for the discovery of private residential property transactions with caveats lodged.
Pursuant to section 115 of the Land Titles Act, anyone who claims an interest in land may lodge a caveat. Obviously, this may be challenged and an applicant may file for a removal of a caveat if there are sufficient grounds to do so, so that that property is not encumbered permanently.
Homebuyers generally do not need to worry about caveats, as it is the responsibility of the agents or lawyers to do their due diligence.