Abhijit Biswas, a software engineer living in the US for the past few decades decided to take his mother along with him for better medical attention. He locked up his ancestral house in Kolkata with plans to renovate it subsequently and give it out on rent. A few months later when he came back to India for getting the renovation work done, to his surprise the house had been turned into a club house by local goons. This is a common situation for many NRIs who are unable to physically look after their properties back home.
How it takes place
Local mafia can encroach into vacant property and may even create documents to prove their rights to it. The local revenue authorities can also be bribed to help their cause. When challenged, these people may even resort to violence in dissuading the real owner from attempting repossession.
Evicting such people is not easy due to two reasons. Firstly such elements are usually well connected to local thugs and politicians. Secondly the tenancy laws in India have provisions to protect the person in possession even if it is unauthorised.
A NRI who is away for long must ensure that the property back home is safeguarded to prevent a situation where a tiresome legal process is required. Here are a few steps that should be undertaken:
Documentation: The moment one gets the ownership of a property one should apply for mutation and arrange all other requisite papers such as the sale agreement, title deeds etc. Additionally, the owner has to ensure that the municipal taxes, water bills and electricity dues are paid on time the receipts kept secure.
Public Notification: In case the property has been inherited or bequeathed, then the new owner must put up notification to the same effect in a local newspaper and keep copies for future requirement.
Fencing/ Board: In case of a vacant plot it is advisable to construct a boundary wall and put up a notice board stating the ownership and right to property. This not only physically protects from encroachment but also makes it difficult for unscrupulous elements to sell