Many NRIs across the world face illegal ownership of their property (mainly unattended houses) in several parts of India. According to property lawyer, NRIs are mostly a soft target for encroachment as the land or the property they own is usually inherited or bought for investment purposes, making it vulnerable to the illegal occupiers.
Many cases have been filed against the encroachment of property by NRIs in India, the reason being that the possessor is endowed with certain judicial protection even when he/she is not the real owner. These laws were made to prevent any illegitimate actions of violence against the possessor of the property. Nevertheless, these laws are exploited by illegal possessors or squatters to illegally acquire property, particularly in the cases when NRIs (owner of a property) is not present in India.
Let’s go through some ways of how property encroachment is tackled by squatters.
There are mainly two ways:
- Fake documents- This is the most common way used by an illegal possessor to occupy a property. By producing bogus or false documents, they threaten owners that their legal right to the property has been deprived. In such situations, either the squatter forces the owner to pay an amount so as to restore the right on his/her property or forces them to sell that particular property at low and distressed rates.
- Tenant occupation– When a tenant illegally occupies a property by staying forcefully with the help of some forged or poorly made contracts and affidavits it gets difficult for an owner to ask a tenant to leave. The Indian law has strongly supported tenants in various cases, which has scurried the illegal possessors to further take advantage of the certain laws and mould them to occupy the property illegally. This works well for the property whose owner is out of the country.
Even though the problem of illegal ownership is difficult to overcome, there are certain effective steps that NRIs can take to protect their property from the squatters, which are listed as follows.
Ways to protect your property from illegal property possession or encroachment in India:
- Bona Fide documents- You need to have all genuine documents in proper order, which you should be able to present anytime to prove your legal rights over your property. As it’s said precaution is always better than cure, keeping all your documents in proper order and place will make you legally stronger, and it will be very challenging for the squatter to illegally occupy your property.
- Copy of the will
- Original purchase agreement
- Telephone and water bills
- Post-purchase formalities- After purchasing or acquiring property, it should be the primary priority to complete all the formalities related to the property and land. Even a small formality should not be neglected as it may become a major problem in the future. Some of these formalities are listed below:
- Get all the land records of revenue in your name.
- Issue a public notice about your acquisition of the particular property and land in a local newspaper.
- Get all the genuine certifications from all the offices of registration as well as revenue.
- Pay all the related taxes to the concerned authorities.
Even after all these formalities and documentation, there are some chances that your property and land can be encroached as being an NRI you cannot be present in the country forever. There are some other precautions and steps that you can take respectively to make sure you have protected your property in every manner. Yes, it is a little tedious but surely to bear better fruits in regards to the protection of your property.
These are some steps that you can consider other than the legal formalities:
- Always be in touch with the neighbours of your owned property as they can inform you in case of any activity that takes place on your property.
- You must keep checking the property on your every visit to the country.
- Even when you have to issue a POA to your property lawyer, friends, or relative make sure you give a Special POA.
- Build a boundary in case it’s an empty land.
- If required you can take help of various property management lawyers who take care of all your property matters.
These were some precautions and steps that an NRI should consider to protect his/her property from illegal possessions, or a person can take free legal advice on the property matters by consulting any law firm or property lawyer. Therefore, one must contact a local property lawyer for a free initial case review so they can discuss how to safeguard from encroachment and illegal sale of property in India.