NRIs should take measures to safeguard their property from illegal possession and learn how NRIs can safeguard their property from illegal possession. NRIs possess ancestral properties such as agricultural land, farmhouses, residential and commercial properties in their native places in India. Typically, these properties are either jointly owned or entrusted to relatives, tenants, or third parties to manage in their absence.
However, as NRIs cannot frequently visit India to oversee their properties, they become easy targets for illegal possession. Opportunistic individuals often encroach on NRI-owned land and properties, whether for investment purposes or as inherited assets.
Given their distance from their native place, NRIs should take measures to safeguard their property and prevent illegal possession of their hard-earned or ancestral property.
Illegal possession or encroachment of properties owned by NRIs often follows a standard modus operandi, where the Local Land Mafia, in collaboration with goons and local influential people, exploits government land record machinery to acquire illegal possession or Kabza of NRI-owned properties.
- The production of counterfeit documents is a typical practice utilized in acquiring illegal possession of properties.
- Original documents are altered to fit the requirements of the illegal occupant
- The use of fake identities is a common tactic used by illegal occupants, who impersonate the original NRI owners in front of government officials to fraudulently obtain possession of the property.
- Tenant Occupancy refers to the act of occupying a property physically for an extended period, or without the knowledge or consent of the Original NRI owner, which is considered illegal possession. In India, the tenancy laws can make a person vulnerable to illegally occupying the property even if it is unauthorized.
To safeguard their properties from illegal possession, NRIs can take several precautions, such as:
Keeping original documents handy:Original documents like a deed, copy of WILL, Jamabandis, mutation, Original Purchase documents, etc. should be kept in a safe place.
Regular updation in Govt. records:NRIs should ensure that all the requisite papers, such as sale agreement, title deeds, Jamabandis, Mutation in the land records department, are up-to-date. Additionally, they should keep the receipts of municipal tax, electricity bills, water bills, etc.
Fencing/boundaries:The vacant plot should be fenced and a board mentioning the ownership and the right to property can be put up to prevent physical encroachment and selling the property to the third party.
Public notification:Putting up a notification of the property in the local newspaper and saving it for future purposes can also be helpful.
- Professional help: NRIs can seek the help of various companies specializing in property protection in return for service commission.
Neighbors:Keeping in touch with the neighbours can help NRIs stay informed about the current situation or activity on the property.
Caretakers:NRIs should be aware that caretakers cannot acquire or possess the property despite their long possession.
Tenancy precautions:Proper care should be taken before renting out the property. NRIs can go through a proper verification process and create a sound agreement that mentions the provisions of renewal and termination. Police registration can also be done to protect the property.
If a property has been encroached upon, the following steps are recommended:
File a Police Complaint:File a police complaint with proper documentation at the nearest police station. The Specific Relief Act, 1963 (Article 5 and Article 6) can provide legal support to regain possession of the property.
Negotiate:Negotiate with the person who has encroached the property for an out-of-court settlement with the help of legal advice.
Seek Legal Assistance:After filing a police complaint, it is advisable to seek legal assistance to regain possession of the property as soon as possible.
Conditions where an illegal possessor can get legal right over the property
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Under the Limitation Act of 1963, adverse possession can lead to legal ownership of a property by the current possessor if the original owner fails to claim it for a continuous period of 12 years.
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To establish ownership through adverse possession, the illegal possessor must demonstrate the following:
- The possession of the property has been continuous and uninterrupted for the entire period required by law, which may vary depending on the jurisdiction.
- The possessor has been the exclusive occupant of the property during that time period.
- The squatter must make their intentions known to the original owner, such as by starting construction on the property, to indicate their claim over it.
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