A title deed is a legal document to prove the ownership of a property and thus confers certain rights and privileges on the person who holds it. Such deeds are necessary in situations where people want to transfer ownership of the property.
On one hand owning a property – be it a piece of land, a house or an apartment – can be one of the best options of investments, on the other, the unorganized real estate sector of the country calls for the investor or buyer to take maximum protection on her/ his investment . One needs to be careful while buying land/house to avoid falling into legal hassles later.
It goes without saying that a lot of care is required from the beginning, right from site-seeing to the registration of the land. The legal status of the land is one of the first issues the prospective buyer should address before confirming on buying the property. It is advisable not to give any advance money before getting confirmation on the legal status of the property.
Thus the most important step for any buyer is to see the title deed of the land which she/ he is going to buy. This will confirm whether the land is in the name of the seller and that the full right to sell the land lies with only him and no other person. Ideally, the seller gives a photostat or xerox copy of the title deed when the negotiations are one. But it is best to insist on seeing the original deed. There are times when the seller may have taken a loan by pledging the original deed. It also needs checking whether the seller has permitted any access to others through this land and whether any other fact has been left undisclosed by the owner of the land.
In addition, along with the title deed, the buyer should also demand the previous deeds of the land available with the seller and get all these documents examined by a competent lawyer.
Before buying a property, any prospective buyer needs to conduct a number of checks to confirm that the land has a clear and marketable title. The first and foremost step one can take is to find out the tenure, legal right of the holder of the land in government records. The tenure or possession rights could be freehold, leasehold or may be held under a government grant or ‘sanad’. It is however always preferable to go for a freehold land. We will discuss more on the various possession rights in our next post.
While it is the duty of the seller to provide all the necessary documents to the buyer, it is always advisable to take the services of a lawyer who can help you in procuring these papers.
The list of documents which are prerequisites for obtaining the title deed of a property in India includes site allotment notice, possession certificate, sale deed, encumbrance certificate, transfer certificate, tax-paid receipts, intermediate sale deeds and registration certificate, to name a few.
The procedure for obtaining the title deed for a property includes:
(a) An application needs to be submitted to the relevant urban development authority for a title deed, to be done immediately following the obtaining of sale deed.
(b) An encumbrance certificate (EC) has to be obtained. It is of utmost importance that before buying any land or house, it is important to confirm that the land does not have any legal dues. This certificate is available from the sub-registrar office, where the deed has been registered. But the longer the time period since the sale deed has been issued, the greater the likelihood of legal dues, and the longer it takes to get an EC. There is also a penalty which needs to be paid if the title deed is not obtained immediately after the sale deed.
(c) Once the EC is obtained, a copy of the lease-cum-sale document, allotted by the urban development authority to the original allottee, needs to be obtained.
(d) Here a transfer certificate needs to be obtained, followed by a site inspection which confirms that the property for which the title deed is being sought is, in fact, real.
(e) A site inspection also confirms that the buyer has absolute possession and that the measurements are as per the sale deed.
(f) Once the above is done a title deed is issued in the property owner’s name. After the payment of the stamp duty, the registration of the property is done at the sub-registrar’s office.
The buyer needs to take into account that the entire process the procedure and documents may differ from case to case depending on the nature of the transaction for that particular property acquisition.
The entire process of obtaining the title deed takes about a minimum of 45 days, but can go up to six months.
However in a couple of states in India, the registration departments have gone online and have put up details of all registered documents on its websites, including information like the registrar’s office where documents would be available.
For instance, in Maharashtra if the details are not listed online, the applicant can approach the SIC again and he will be compensated. In such a case the public information officer stands to be penalized by the authorities. So all the buyer needs to do is to produce a copy of the registration number to the office and ask them to provide the documents.
A last word of caution: When it comes to obtaining a title deed of the property you want to buy, never go for any shortcuts. It might take some time, but it is worth the wait. This will save you from unnecessary hassles you might face later on!
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