What Can NRI Do In Case OF Illegal Possession Of Properties?

Properties owned by NRIs in India are an easy target for illegal possession as they are unable to keep a frequent update on the properties after they take over the ownership. The physical absence of NRIs who are owners of properties in India has become one of the prevalent reason for illegal possession. There are numerous emerging cases in relation to illicit possession of NRI properties in India.

What Leads To Illegal Possession Of NRI Property?

The standard modus operandi observed in cases of illegal possession of NRI-owned property is the preparation of fake documents or tampering with the original agreement to suit one party. Tenant occupancy; which means taking over the property physically for more than the stipulated time or occupying property without the knowledge of the owner also constitutes illegal possession. In such a case, eviction is cumbersome and requires legal help.

The solution to illegal occupation is usually two folds: -

  1. Take preventive steps to protect NRI property from illegal occupation.
  2. Legal advice and assistance after the illegal occupation of property.

Some of the preventive procedures and regulations that the NRIs should always fulfill on ownership of property are:

  1. Keeping all the necessary property records updated and handy; such as a deed, will, jamabandis, mutation, original purchase agreement, electricity, water and phone bills. All of them specify the owner’s status.
  2. Record of the property in revenue departments should be in the owner’s name and it must be updated in case of transfer of property.
  3. In case of a newly acquired property, public notice of ownership of property should be mentioned in a local newspaper. Preferably, in two different languages (but not mandatory).
  4. NRI owners should always pay taxes to the concerned authority and keep a copy of tax receipts with them.
  5. A specific power of attorney (POA) to a friend, relative or a lawyer should always be mentioned.
  6. Fencing of the property with some sign mentioning the owner’s name.
  7. It is also advisable to construct some small concrete construction in case the land is vacant.
  8. It is smart to device a way of periodic monitoring, preferably by a local point of contact.

If all the above formalities are followed, illegal possession of the property can be avoided. It should be noted that possessor enjoys certain legal protections against the third party even if he is not the owner hence, using force or violent methods should be avoided at all cost. Taking the following legal steps will help NRIs in reclaiming their property: -

  1. File a police complaint against the occupier; a written complaint to the Superintendent of Police is suggested. If not possible, a police complaint in the nearest police station will also work.
  2. The owner can file a case under the Specific Relief Act of 1963 to help build up the case. Section 5 of SRA allows a property owner to get possession of land by its title.
  3. A property owner can also take legal action against a person who has illegally possessed the property under section 145 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
  4. Negotiate your terms with the tenant. Tenancy acts are somewhat favorable towards tenants so, negotiating terms out of the court can always be an option on the table.