It is a common situation for many NRIs who are unable to physically look after their properties back home in India that their property is encroached or illegally possessed by somebody.

How encroachment actually takes place

Local goons often upon seeing a vacant property encroach it and may also create false documents to prove their rights to it. The local authorities may also be bribed to support their actions. Evicting such people is not easy as they might resort to violence to dissuade the real owner from taking back possession.

The entire process gets all the more difficult because often these thugs have political connections; also, tenancy laws in India have provisions to protect the tenants even if the possession is unauthorized.

Prevention against illegal possession

NRIs staying abroad for long durations need to ensure that their property is secured in order to avoid any legal issues that unnecessarily consume time, energy and money.

Some safety tips are:

Keeping documents intact– It is of prime importance that right after acquiring ownership of the property, mutation is applied for and all the necessary documents like title deed, agreement of sale, etc. are kept intact. Furthermore, receipts of water bills, electricity bill and any other bills of the said property need to be preserved as further proof of ownership.

Fencing Board– If the plot of land is a vacant one, then it is advised that the area is fenced or a wall is put up around the boundary with a board stating the ownership and right to property. This helps in physically protecting the property and prevents mischievous goons from selling the property to a 3rd party because the true ownership title will be visible.

Public Notification

It is important for the owner who has inherited or bequeathed a property that to put up a notification in the local newspaper and keep copies of the same in case of future reference.

Tenant

While providing tenancy, it is advised that a proper verification of the tenant is done and a proper secure agreement with provisions for renewal or termination are created. Subletting clauses, if any, need to be specified prior to giving position to the tenant.

Taking Professional Help

If you are not going to visit your property for a long time nor keeping a tenant, then you may hire somebody who can look after the property and expertise in this area. There are many companies and organizations that look after NRI property while they are abroad.

What next if the property has been encroached?

Under unfortunate circumstances it may so happen that an NRI may find their property encroached. In such a situation careful planning needs to be done to remove the unauthorized persons from the encroached property.

  1. The first step is to ensure that all the legal documents of the property are organized and in place.
  2. Police Complaint- A complaint needs to be made to the police department, of the respective jurisdiction, with all the necessary documents proving ownership of the property. The Specific Relief Act, 1963 (Article 5 and 6) provide relief in such cases to help the actual owner in getting back possession of his property.
  3. Legal Assistance- After the police complaint it is pertinent that the aggrieved may take the professional legal advice in pursuance of getting back his property. Often a legal suit needs to be filed so as to get and order from the court against the encroachment or to obtain a restrain order or stay (injunctive) relief on the property.

Negotiations

Negotiations and out of court settlements are the best way to resolve such issues. It is a faster method and is peaceful. However, legal advice should be sought before entering into any negotiations.

Note- Be patient and take the legal recourse, any illegal method of trying to evict the miscreant might end up in the owner losing the property.

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