Saving Title Of Your Property From Illegal Occupants

The modern concept of adverse possession has its genesis from the conception of valuable land possessed by a person for his benefits. Early societies looked at the person holding land as someone who is yielding the greatest value from the land and hence, that person and his rights are required to be protected. Needless to say, this concept is flawed in today’s world. Today’s legal system calls for a change in this concept and how we treat adverse possession.

Supreme court, in April 2019 while passing an order in Mallikarjunaiah v/s Nanjaiah case, proclaimed that mere continuous possession is not enough to sustain the plea of adverse possession. Possession must be open, exclusive and hostile enough that parties interested in the property know about the possession.

In India, victims of adverse possession are mostly NRIs, as they are more prone to losing their property to intruders. Their physical absence from the property gives a window to illegal occupants to stake a claim in the property.

As per The Limitation Act of 1963, adverse possession is the claimant’s right of ownership in the property. If the person holding title deed has not shown any interest in the property’s right and has not taken any action against the intruder, then the possessor enjoys judicial protection.

Ways In Which NRIs Can Protect Their Property From Illegal Occupants:

1. Documentation

  • Maintaining proper documentation of the property is an ideal way in which NRIs can protect their property. Documents of title deed, jamabandis, mutation/intkaal, original copies of purchase agreement/sale deed and copy of Will (if any) helps the owner in maintaining ownership.
  • Keeping copies of your bills and taxes is of utmost importance. Bills such as electricity bills, water bills and telephone bills are a comparatively easy task.
  • Make sure all your title deed documents are updated with the revenue department.

2. Physical Measures

  • Erecting gates and fences will give the first impression that the land already has a proactive owner and any alteration to the land will be noticed.
  • Placing boards with the name of the owner and a legal warning against trespassing is a common practice that helps in establishing the ownership.
  • One of the most important modes of protection of the property is periodic monitoring. For NRIs, it is essential that either they hire a professional to do so or give this responsibility to trusted family members/friends/legal representative.

3. Power Of Attorney

  • For NRIs, it is extremely important that they assign power of attorney to handle their property matters in India. As NRIs are an easy target and they can’t physically monitor the property on a regular basis, therefore, it makes sense to give a specific power of attorney to a trusted lawyer who will be able to make decisions as your legal representative.

4. Tenancy

  • It is important for NRIs to have a clearly defined tenancy agreement which specifies rules of tenancy and protects their interests. Legal background checks of their tenants are one of the few precautionary steps that NRIs can take. It is helpful if tenant agreement is of short term, so that chances of adverse possession can be eliminated.

As the frauds related to adverse possession are on the rise, it is important that NRIs make informed decisions related to property and its occupation. Taking legal advice from property lawyers is a convenient way to avoid such property disputes.

Civil litigation and property lawyers assists NRI clients in a variety of property matters such as illegal possession of their property in India, encroachment of property, illegal and unauthorized sale/transfer of property, etc.

Efficient lawyers provide legal advice and solutions to NRIs in establishing their property title and saving it from illegal occupants. The property lawyers assist NRIs in all legal matters from litigations, negotiations to out of court settlement.