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Common property disputes and ways to avoid them

[] Here’s a look at the common types of property disputes and simple measures that home seekers can take, to avoid getting entangled in a legal mess

Property dispute numbers in India are quite overwhelming. Only over 66% of the cases pending in various civil courts of India are related to property disputes. Of all the cases that India’s apex court deals with, 33% are also related to the same subject. Since land is central to growth of a developing country like India, which is also the world’s second-most populous country, finding solutions to this issue is central to us as a nation. A lot can be done if, as an individual, one is careful while entering into property transactions.

You are reading: Common property disputes and ways to avoid them

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Causes of property disputes

There are several types of property dispute. Most of the disputes pertain to the title of the immovable property. Saying that ‘a person has a good title over the property’, implies that such a person has a right to enjoy the rights or interests in the property, possession, use, income by way of rent, etc. You have to prove the title of the property through appropriate documentary evidence.

Dispute pertaining to a property, often arise through claims from legal heirs, co-owners, disputes over easement rights, wrong representation by the seller, improper description of the property in the title deed, etc. A dispute may also arise when a party to the transaction, after receiving the earnest money or advance money, refuses to perform his part of the contract and approaches another buyer and takes consideration from him. In this matter, the previous purchaser can approach the court and contest the title of the property. There may also be disputes pertaining to delays in the delivery of possession of flats, by developers to buyers.

Another common dispute arises, when a property is acquired either through a gift or under a will. In such cases, a party may contend that the process of transferring the property through a will or gift, is not valid in the eyes of law. With respect to an inherited property, disputes generally arise, when a purchaser buys such an inherited property, without the knowledge that it is an inherited property. An inherited property may be subject to conditions of the will, probate, letters of administration or succession certificate.

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How to avoid property disputes and minimise the risk involved

1. Title search

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Before purchasing a property, conduct a thorough verification and perusal of the title documents of the property, for at least 30 years. The title search and property verification are generally conducted by an advocate, or a reputed title investigator. Another way of ensuring if the property is legally clear, is to see if it has been approved by leading banks. Banks will only approve of properties, which have legal clearances and valid documents. Also, ensure that the property is not mortgaged.

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2. Sanctioned plans

You must ask the builder for the sanctioned plan and compare the same with the actual built-up area. Doing this is imperative, because many times, the sanctioned plan is not same as the built area and such a construction amounts to an illegal construction.

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3. Inheritance

While investing in an inherited property, ensure that the name of the beneficiary is mutated in the relevant government or revenue records, depending upon the nature of the property. Ensure that such a property was transferred, with the requisite proof of inheritance – for example, a will, or probate, or letter of administration or succession certificate, or by any mutual understanding. In case there is no will, ensure that the property was distributed, as per the applicable succession laws.

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4. Sale deed dates

Ensure that the date on the stamp papers, match with the date of transfer of title documents.

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5. Municipal approvals

Ensure that your house plan has all the requisite approvals, needed from the different departments of the municipal corporation. Make sure that any licenses, if required, have been obtained from the appropriate departments.

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How to resolve a property dispute?

You can either settle property disputes through mutual understanding and negotiations or move to the court. Here are some of the ways in which you can avoid/resolve a property dispute:

Use signs or construct fences

Using fences or putting up a tag stating ‘private property’ is helpful if you stay in an area with a lot of open space. These spaces might be encroached upon in due time. Using tags or putting up fences around your property would prevent intruders from gaining entry into your property without permission. This would also reduce the chances of dispute.

Contact any land surveyor

A land surveyor has greater knowledge than ordinary individuals and can help you understand your property boundaries better. A land surveyor helps you to know the exact extension of your boundary so that neither you nor your neighbor ends up in a dispute.

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How to settle a boundary dispute?

A boundary dispute can be settled by talking to your neighbour. It is best to define the boundaries of your property and resolve the dispute amicably. However, you can lodge a complaint at your local police station if matters go worse.

Can a disputed property be sold?

No, a disputed property cannot be sold until the dispute is resolved.

Can my neighbour claim my land?

A neighbour can claim your land only if they are allowed to reside in your property or have a portion of it without your objection for more than 12 years. This might develop an entitlement in favour of your neighbor.

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Category: Must Knows

Debora Berti

Università degli Studi di Firenze, IT

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