Think twice before renting bank locker! You will get nothing if content is lost due to ‘Act of God’

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Updated: August 19, 2021 1:00 PM

RBI's New Bank Locker Rules: The Reserve Bank of India has revised the guidelines for the hiring of safe deposit lockers from banks.

rbi bank locker rules 2021Representative image

RBI’s New Bank Locker Rules: The Reserve Bank of India has revised the guidelines for the hiring of safe deposit lockers from banks. The central bank has limited the bank’s liability to only 100 times the annual rent in case the content of the locker is lost due to mishaps like fire, building collapse or frauds by bank employees.

Also, the bank will not be liable for your loss if the content of the locker is lost or damaged due to natural calamities or “Act of God” events like earthquakes, floods, lightning, and thunderstorm.

The new guidelines will come into effect from January 1, 2022 and apply to both new and existing safe deposit lockers and the safe custody of articles facility with the banks.

“It is the responsibility of banks to take all steps for the safety and security of the premises in which the safe deposit vaults are housed. It has the responsibility to ensure that incidents like fire, theft/ burglary/ robbery, dacoity, building collapse do not occur in the bank’s premises due to its own shortcomings, negligence and by any act of omission/commission,” the RBI said in its notification.

“As banks cannot claim that they bear no liability towards their customers for loss of contents of the locker, in instances where loss of contents of locker are due to incidents mentioned above or attributable to fraud committed by its employee(s), the banks’ liability shall be for an amount equivalent to one hundred times the prevailing annual rent of the safe deposit locker,” it added.

When bank will be liable

Banks will be liable for the loss of content of the locker due to fire, theft, burglary, robbery, dacoity, building collapse, or fraud committed by the bank’s employees. However, the bank’s liability will be limited to 100 times the annual rent.

When bank will not be liable

While the banks have been asked to put in place a Board-approved policy outlining the responsibility owed by them for any loss or damage to the contents of the lockers due to their negligence, the banks will not be liable for loss of content of the locker due to natural calamities, or “Acts of God” like earthquake, flood, lightning, and thunderstorm.

“The bank shall not be liable for any damage and/or loss of contents of locker arising from natural calamities or Acts of God like earthquake, floods, lightning and thunderstorm or any act that is attributable to the sole fault or negligence of the customer,” the RBI notification said.

Locker Rent

To ensure prompt payment of locker rent, RBI has allowed banks to obtain a Deposit Deposit at the time of allotment. Such deposits would cover three years’ rent and the charges for breaking open the locker in case of such eventuality.

Also, banks have been asked not to insist on such term deposits from the existing locker holders or those who have a satisfactory operative account.

However, if the customer fails to pay locker rent for three consecutive years, banks will be free to break open any locker following due procedure.

“Banks shall have the discretion to break open any locker following due procedure if the rent has not been paid by the customer for three years in a row,” RBI said.

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