NRI’s should be aware that courts are slow in India and cases that involve property can take decades to settle. Hence it is better to be careful to check and verify documents before purchasing property in India.Horror stories of real estate transactions are not uncommon in India. Most registration offices for property in India are not computerized yet. Records are kept in manual registers and it is all the more necessary to get all required documents and keep them with care.
Some Guidelines for purchasing a flat or vacant land in India
- Builder reputation should be checked out. What other projects has this builder built? Do not just look at glossy brochures and be satisfied
- See the documentation for the lands on which to flats are to be built. There should be a proper certificate issued by a lawyer with a standing of at least three years. Documents usually name the parties from whom the land has been acquired etc. (It is always better to get your own lawyer to advise you on such matters)
- Check that the plans provided by the builder have been approved by the local government authorities
- What happens if project is delayed? It is not uncommon for builders to raise prices later if market prices go up. So ask questions before giving deposit
- Get promises in writing as verbal promises are not worthless when there is a dispute
- Take steps to make the builder aware that you will be provided with a completion certificate that has been granted by the local authorities BEFORE possession
- Get clarification in writing on how builder will hand over after construction is completed. Such as cooperative society etc. This may not seem important to many purchasers when buying but can prove to be a costly affair later.Note: I have purchased a flat in India and now our building complex is having a dispute over who runs the building. The builder is not willing to give up control and has formed a management authority to run the building. At the same time some residents have formed a society and want control.This type of situation is common in India as builders do not want to give up control. The reasoning behind this is usually greed. When flats are resold by owners they need a no objection certificate (NOC) from the society. If no society then the builder provides this and he will usually charge a hefty fee for giving an NOC. This can be a percentage of the sale price and can run into lakhs of rupees.I am told that in case a builder does not hand over control to a elected society in a building. Then he still owns the land and any relaxation in building codes entitles him to construct more flats etc. in the building and keep the sale proceeds. He may for instance if the law permits add another floor to the building.In India builders will usually refuse to take full money by cheque. There is usually a black market amount involved which means cash payment. Stay away from such transactions. NRIs should only make cheque payments and some reputable builders understand and accept this. Making cheque payments will also help later in repatriating your money in case you sell the flat at a later date
Property Registration in India
The Registration Act 1908 applies when it comes to property registration in India.The key purpose for which the Act was designed was to make sure information about all deals concerning land were correct and proper land records could be maintained. The Act is used for accurate recording of transactions relating to other immovable property. The Act provides for registration of other documents also, which can give these documents more legitimacy. Registering authorities have been provided in all the districts for this purpose.Information about Registration – India’s Registration Act 1908.
Registration of documents relating to immovable property is compulsory.
Registration of will is optional, however it may be sensible to do so.
Timeline of presentation for registration
Document should be submitted for registration within 4 months from date of execution. If a document is executed abroad by some of the parties, it can be presented for registration within four months after its arrival in India Where documents should be registered.
Document relating to immovable property should be registered in the office of Sub-Registrar of sub-district within which the property is situated. All persons executing the document or their representatives, assigns or agents holding power of attorney must appear before registering officerâ€¢All documents must be signed the document in presence of Registration If document relates to transfer of ownership of immovable property, passport size photograph and finger prints of each buyer and seller of such property shall be affixed to document. [proviso to section 32A]. The Registrar is required to ensure that these are endorsed on the document.
When the Registering Officer is satisfied about identity of persons and if they admit about execution of documents, and after registration fees are paid, the registering officer will register the document and make necessary entries in the Register maintained by their office.
After all formalities are complete, the Registering Officer will endorse the document with word Registered, and sign the same. The endorsement will be copied in Register. The duly registered document is then returned to the person who presented the document for registration.
A document takes effect from its date of execution and not from date of registration. However, if the document states that it will be effective from a particular date, it will be effective from that date.
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