In a recent decision on 7th August, 2019, the Honourable Supreme court of India has passed a judgement wherein it has been held that adverse possession has roots in a principle that awards ownership of a land to a person who makes the best or highest use of land. It means that if a person who is in possession of the land for 12 or more years and maintains the property and improves the property has a better claim over it than the owner who neither visits the property nor cares for the property. By way of this judgement, any person who is taking care of the property for more than 12 years without any interference can claim a title/ownership over the property through the court. It is therefore advisable that any NRI who is having immovable property in India and that property has been entrusted to someone as a caretaker without any agreement or existing documents, NRI cannot claim ownership right over the property after the expiry of 12 years, if that person is enjoying uninterrupted interference over that property.
To ensure that the property of NRIs is not claimed by any caretaker who has been entrusted by them, NRI should keep in mind the following instructions:
- Ensure that a lease and licence agreement is prepared with the person who is appointed as a caretaker.
- Ensure that a proper rent agreement is prepared if the property has been given on rent and it should be updated from time to time.
- Ensure that even if any relative/friend is entrusted to take care of property, there should be a proper written agreement.
- Ensure that the property tax and maintenance charges are paid by NRIs directly at regular intervals.
- Ensure that utility bills like electricity and water bills should be in the name of the owner of the property.
We hope that this article will be helpful for the NRIs to safeguard their property in India in view of the judgement of the Honourable Supreme court.
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