NRI Property Issues
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NRI Property Issues
Properties that NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) own are regulated by FEMA (Foreign Management Act). The RBI (Reserve Bank of India) has provided certain guidelines to NRIs under which they can buy residential and commercial properties in India; but they cannot buy agricultural land, plantation property, or farmhouse in India. Under RBI guidelines, there is no limit to the number of residential or commercial properties that an NRI can buy.
Now here’s where the problem arises. NRIs possessing multiple properties in India often lie vacant or under the care of a caretaker or are rented. These properties are vulnerable to illegal possession. Many NRIs do not visit India for a long time. In such a case, the caretaker or any other person with a malicious motive can possess the property by forging the papers or by other means.
The following are the common NRI property issues in India:
- Disputing arising from the side of legal heirs or joint owners.
- Easement rights disputes.
- Unauthorized or illegal possession by a third party.
- Property encroachment through false documents.
- A family member challenges a will in court.
- Misuse of Power of Attorney.
- Partition disputes.
- Disputes arising out of family settlement.
- Landlord-tenant disputes wherein the NRI is the landlord.
Adverse possession in which a tenant or caretaker occupying the NRI’s property for more than 12 years (in knowledge of the NRI) takes possession of the property.
Preventive measures by NRIs to safeguard their property in India:
NRIs live far away from their properties. Therefore, they must take certain measures to ensure their property in India is safe and away from any illegal possession and other legal dispute. Here are a few tips:
- As an NRI, you must keep in place all the original documents of your property in India such as copy of will, deed, purchase documents, and so on.
- These documents must be updated in the government land records department.
- You must keep in place all the receipts of taxes paid, electricity bills, water bills, municipal tax, and others.
- If you have a vacant plot in India, then you must fence it or build a boundary around it to prevent encroachment of property. Additionally, you can put up an ownership board.
- You can publish a notice pertaining to the property ownership in the local newspaper and retain a copy of this with you for future references.
- There are certain organisations that provide protection to property for NRIs in exchange of a service commission. You can hire such services.
- It is good to keep in touch with your neighbours in India where your property is located so that you know what is happening at your property. Or have some trusted friend or relative visit your property and check it from time to time.
Rent your property in India only after proper verification of the tenant and create a proper rent agreement. Also, make sure the tenant does not stay on your property for continuous 12 years or more, lest they may take adverse possession.
Benefits to choose service
Choosing a legal service can take off the “headache” of legal procedures, which are often lengthy and cumbersome. A lawyer will help you file a civil suit related to the property dispute under appropriate section of CPC. With legal assistance, you should not worry about paperwork and other such complex procedures of court. So, choosing a lawyer has a lot of benefits, as they will work diligently for you to help you get back your illegally possessed property or settle disputes arising out of will challenge or other reasons.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
You can take three steps:
- File a complaint with the police. For this, you must have proper original documents of the property and produce it to the nearest police station (in India). In this case, Specific Relief Act, 1963, Article 5 & 6 can help you retrieve possession of your property.
- Negotiate with the offender: Hire a lawyer and negotiate with the person who has encroached your property for out-of-court settlement.
- Hire a lawyer: It is advised to hire a lawyer in both the above cases so that your rights are protected and you can take necessary and correct steps to get back your property.
Yes. Property, whether residential or commercial, can be gifted either to a person residing in India or to another NRI. But, you cannot gift farmhouse, agricultural land or plantation property to another NRI. These can be gifted to only a person residing in India.
No. You must file a case only where the property is located, which in this case is India.
Yes. You can hire a lawyer in India and he/she will represent your case. However, in certain cases or in certain aspect of the case, you might need to visit India. So, you must be mentally prepared for travelling to India.
Yes. But for that you will need a highly qualified and experienced lawyer who can help you take legal action. The right legal moves can help you get back possession of your property. So, do not lose hope, if somebody living on your property for more than a decade has claimed adverse possession.
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