Property disputes form the majority of cases that clog our judiciary. Around 66% of all cases are property-related litigations. There are numerous types of property disputes in India. The majority of the disputes relate to the title of the immovable property. When a person has a good title over the property, it infers that such a person has a right to enjoy all the rights in the property such as possession, use, income by way of rent, etc. To prove the title of the property is the sole responsibility of the concerned person through appropriate documentary evidence.
Reasons behind property disputes in India
- When legal heirs or co-owners claim their share in the property.
- When the seller vides, agreement to sell receives the earnest money or advance money. Later on, he refuses to perform his part of the contract and approaches another buyer and takes consideration from him.
- Due to delays in the delivery of possession of flats by developers to buyers. For such disputes, the aggrieved party can approach the consumer court.
- When a Will or gift deed is made in favour of one of the legal heirs, in such cases, other legal heirs may challenge the process of transfer of property on the ground that the Will or gift deed is not valid in the eyes of the law.
- When a third party purchases an inherited property without the knowledge that it is an inherited property.
- The dispute also arises over easement rights, wrong representation by the seller, improper description of the property in the title deed, etc.
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Problems faced by NRIs
The NRIs settled abroad face major issues in respect of their properties in their motherland. The NRIs usually buy assets and properties for the purpose of investment, and the same is left unattended for a long time, thus, become a very easy target for encroachment.
In cases where the NRIs appoint caretakers/guards in their property, such persons impersonate as owners of the property and refuse to vacate the NRIs property. Later the NRIs have to file suit for eviction and declaration to get rid of this situation.
Due to their absence, the NRIs have to depend upon local friends and relatives to look after their assets and properties.
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Tips to avoid property disputes in India
Title search / Due Diligence
Before purchasing any property, the NRIs should get a due diligence/title search upon such property to determine the property’s status. A proper investigation shall be carried out to find out that the property is free from litigation and encumbrances. Physical inspection and valuation of the property are also necessary before investing in it. Further, to ensure that the property is legally clear, proper examination and scrutinising, the title deeds should be carried out through a real estate lawyer / a property management company.
Sanctioned site plans
Before purchasing any property, the NRIs must consult an architect who can draft a proper site plan. This site plan should be compared with the actual built-up area. This will help as sometimes the site plan is not the same as the built-up area, and such construction amounts to illegal construction.
Beneficiary’s name has to be mutated in the relevant government or revenue records and insured while investing in inherited property, depending upon the nature of the property. Requisite proof of inheritance has to be ensured before such property is transferred.
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Sale deed / Title deed / Ownership Documents
While executing the transaction, such as an agreement to sell and sale deed, the parties must ensure that the dates on the stamp papers matches with the date of transfer of property. Also, all the particulars such as name, address of the property, etc., are diligently written on the title deeds.
Approval from Municipal Offices
One must ensure that the house plan has all the required approvals needed from the municipal corporation and other revenue departments, and no violation of the physical structure of the property has been made. Another important point for consideration is to make sure that any licenses, if required, have been obtained from the appropriate departments.
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Significant Points to be kept in mind in respect of NRIs
- The basic rule is to ensure there is all the documentation proof to establish true and absolute ownership. To establish a right on property, the owner or person claiming possession must have documents such as title deeds, jamabandis, mutation, copy of Will (in a situation where the property is inherited by Will), electricity bills, water bills, etc.
- NRIs Must be in touch with neighbours so that they can notify them if they see any movement. Also, NRIs must keep checking property through friends and relatives at periodic intervals, so that property does not become a soft target.
- A property fence should be put on the boundaries of the property along with the board saying, “trespasser will be prosecuted.” The mobile number of a local relative/friend should be displayed on such a board.
- If NRIs wish to let out the property, they must do with due diligence on the tenant prior to executing a tenancy agreement.
In a nutshell, property disputes in India are a common occurrence. Hence, legal advice from top property lawyers are always advisable.