Land and abandoned houses in India are most vulnerable to encroachment. A land in India is usually purchased for investment and then is left unattended which is why it becomes an easier target. Houses too, particularly of older people without primary support or of NRIs are prone to become soft targets. And later, the legal way of eviction is also cumbersome and time-consuming.
Land and property encroachment is the unlawful entering upon the property, other possessions, or the rights of another (gradually and without permission).
Trespass to land occurs when a person undeviatingly intrudes on another’s property without consent or settles upon the land.
How to protect your land from trespassing and encroachment?
- The primary rule to follow would be to have all the essential documents regarding the property in place to prove the legal rights of the owner. Documents such as the title deeds, revenue records, mutation, the copy of the Will (if any) which states that the property has come by way of a Will, electricity bills, water bills and telephone bills, original purchase agreement/sale deed, etc. help in establishing the right of the owner
- If the title deed is missing from your custody either because it is untraceable or lost, then one must immediately lodge a formal police complaint to the effect.
- The next-best thing is to issue a notice in at least two major local newspapers about the ownership rights of that property. Later one should obtain the certified copies of all such records from the concerned registering authority or revenue offices.
- Another important thing is to pay all outgoings and liabilities like municipality/panchayat/property tax to the authorities on time.
- One must also be in touch with the neighbors so that they may be able to report if they notice any activity. One should also keep a check on the property, via friends, and relatives, so that the trespassers and encroachers know that the property is not a soft target
Apart from this, there is a certain list of tips concerning land and property encroachment in India
- If one has to give a Power of Attorney (PoA) to a relative or friend, then it must be well-defined.
- One must fence and put up a board on the property.
- The assistance of a professional service provider who can help with monitoring the property is also helpful. They make occasional visits, put up boards and fence the property on behalf of the owner.
- A small concrete construction on the property that can be rented out to a tenant under proper documentation is also a good option to keep encroachers and trespassers at bay.
- One must have good tenancy agreements to protect one’s interest. Hiring service of a lawyer is well worth it.
- Get your renter registered with the local police station, in places where such tenant registration is either mandatory or is voluntarily accepted.
- Promptly renew lease agreements on current terms as may be on expiry of contract or request vacation.
- Keep a check if the rental payments are coming through into the bank monthly. Checks get bounced, and if one does not notice it for a very long time that would make the tenant more secure and later removal of such residents will not be easy.
- Do not keep residents at face value, have a proper inquiry before renting the house.
- Senior Citizens who have rented out their property or part of their property, need to be extra careful to ensure that they do not get taken in for a ride.
Although, things have improved since the implementation of computerization of land records and registration in various states there still lies a lot to be done, and it is better for individuals to be careful to avoid land and property encroachment in India.