The Importance of Property Document Verification: Avoiding Fake Property Papers

The Importance of Property Document Verification: Avoiding Fake Property Papers

LegalKart Editor
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Last Updated: Jul 11, 2024

When purchasing property, whether it's a residential home or a commercial space, the stakes are incredibly high. Not only are significant amounts of money involved, but the security of your investment hinges on the authenticity of the property documents. The rise of fraudulent activities in the real estate sector underscores the critical need for thorough property document verification. In this blog, we will explore the importance of verifying property documents, the risks associated with fake property papers, and how to conduct a proper property paper check.

Why Property Document Verification is Crucial

Protecting Your Investment

The primary reason for property document verification is to protect your investment. Real estate transactions involve substantial financial commitments. Verifying the authenticity of the property papers ensures that you are not falling prey to fraudulent schemes, which could result in significant financial loss and legal troubles.

Legal Compliance

Ensuring that property documents are legitimate helps in complying with legal requirements. Authentic and verified property papers mean that the property transaction is legally binding and enforceable, thereby safeguarding your rights as a property owner.

Avoiding Future Disputes

Fake property documents can lead to numerous disputes, including ownership battles, legal cases, and potential eviction from the property. Verifying the documents beforehand helps in avoiding such disputes, ensuring peace of mind and security of tenure.

People Also Read: Online Property Paper Verification in Delhi: A Step-by-Step Guide

Understanding Fake Property Documents

When it comes to property transactions, the risk of encountering fake property documents is a significant concern. Fraudulent documents can lead to severe legal and financial repercussions. Understanding the various types of fake property documents, the methods fraudsters use to create them, and the consequences of possessing such documents is crucial for anyone involved in buying or selling property. 

Common Types of Fake Property Documents

  1. Forged Title Deeds

    1. Definition: Forged title deeds are documents that have been altered or entirely fabricated to misrepresent the true ownership of the property.

    2. Method: Fraudsters might steal blank title deed forms, forge signatures, or alter existing deeds to change ownership details.

    3. Consequences: Possession of a forged title deed can lead to ownership disputes, legal battles, and potential loss of the property.

  2. Impersonation Fraud

    1. Definition: This involves fraudsters impersonating the real owner of the property to illegally transfer ownership.

    2. Method: Using fake identification documents, fraudsters can pose as the rightful owner to execute a sale or mortgage.

    3. Consequences: Buyers might unknowingly purchase property from someone who is not the legitimate owner, leading to legal complications and potential financial loss.

  3. Illegal Subdivision

    1. Definition: This involves dividing property illegally without proper approvals, resulting in invalid property papers.

    2. Method: Fraudsters may create fake subdivision plans and sell plots that do not comply with local zoning laws.

    3. Consequences: Properties bought under such schemes may be deemed illegal, resulting in fines, demolition orders, and financial loss.

  4. Fake Encumbrance Certificates

    1. Definition: Encumbrance Certificates (EC) that are forged or tampered with to hide legal liabilities or encumbrances on the property.

    2. Method: Altering or fabricating ECs to show that the property is free from mortgages, loans, or legal disputes.

    3. Consequences: Buyers might inherit undisclosed liabilities, leading to financial burdens and legal issues.

  5. Fraudulent Sale Deeds

    1. Definition: Sale deeds that are forged or altered to misrepresent the terms and conditions of the sale.

    2. Method: Changing details such as the sale amount, property dimensions, or ownership information.

    3. Consequences: Buyers might face discrepancies in the transaction, leading to disputes and potential loss of the property.

Methods Used by Fraudsters

  1. Identity Theft

    1. Fraudsters may steal or fabricate identification documents to impersonate the rightful owner of the property.

    2. This allows them to execute fraudulent transactions without raising immediate suspicion.

  2. Document Alteration

    1. Fraudsters may alter genuine documents to change key details, such as ownership information or property boundaries.

    2. Techniques include erasing original text, adding new information, or using advanced printing methods to create realistic forgeries.

  3. Use of Stolen Documents

    1. Stolen blank documents, such as title deed forms or notary seals, can be used to create fake property documents.

    2. These documents are filled out with false information and presented as genuine.

  4. Collusion with Officials

    1. In some cases, fraudsters may collude with corrupt officials to obtain genuine-looking documents that are, in fact, fraudulent.

    2. This can include obtaining false registrations, approvals, or certifications.

Consequences of Possessing Fake Property Documents

  1. Legal Battles

    1. Individuals found with fake property documents may face prolonged and costly legal battles to prove ownership or reclaim their investment.

    2. Courts may invalidate the transaction, leading to significant financial loss.

  2. Financial Loss

    1. Investing in property with fake documents can result in substantial financial loss, as reclaiming funds or the property may be challenging.

    2. Buyers might also incur additional costs for legal representation and dispute resolution.

  3. Loss of Property

    1. In worst-case scenarios, individuals may lose the property altogether if it is established that the documents are forged.

    2. This can include eviction from the property or demolition if the property is deemed illegal.

  4. Criminal Charges

    1. Possessing or knowingly using fake property documents can result in criminal charges, including fraud, forgery, and misrepresentation.

    2. Individuals may face fines, imprisonment, or both.

Steps to Verify Property Documents

1. Verify the Title Deed

The title deed is one of the most crucial documents in a property transaction. Ensure that the title deed is in the name of the seller and is free from any encumbrances. You can verify this at the Sub-Registrar’s office.

2. Check Encumbrance Certificate

An Encumbrance Certificate (EC) provides details about the property’s legal status and assures that the property is free from any legal liabilities. This can be obtained from the Sub-Registrar’s office.

3. Validate the Sale Deed

The sale deed is proof of the sale and transfer of property. Ensure that the sale deed is registered and all details are accurate and match with other property documents.

4. Confirm the Approved Plan

For properties under construction, it’s essential to check the approved building plan. This document confirms that the construction has been approved by the local municipal authority and adheres to building codes.

5. Verify Property Tax Receipts

Property tax receipts ensure that the previous owner has paid all dues. This also helps in confirming the ownership and authenticity of the property documents.

6. Check the Occupancy Certificate

An Occupancy Certificate (OC) is issued by the local municipal authority, confirming that the building is constructed according to the approved plan and is safe for occupancy. Ensure that the property has an OC before purchasing.

7. Investigate the Land Use Zone

Check the land use zone certificate to ensure that the property’s usage (residential, commercial, industrial, etc.) is as per local zoning laws.

8. Verify the Identity of the Seller

It is crucial to verify the identity of the seller to prevent impersonation fraud. Check the seller’s identification documents and ensure they match the details on the property papers.

People Also Read: Online Property Paper Verification Lawyer in Gurgaon: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Conduct a Property Paper Check

Consult a Legal Professional

  1. Engage a legal professional to review property documents. Lawyers specializing in property law can identify discrepancies and verify the authenticity of documents.

  2. LegalKart provides access to top lawyers who can assist with thorough property document verification.

Online Verification

The digital age has brought numerous advancements in various sectors, including real estate. One of the most significant benefits is the ability to verify property documents online. This method offers convenience, speed, and accessibility, making it a popular choice for many property buyers and investors. Here, we will delve into the process of online verification of property documents, the tools and portals available, and the benefits of using online methods to ensure the authenticity of property papers.

Different states in India have launched online portals that facilitate property document verification. These portals provide access to various records, including title deeds, encumbrance certificates, and property tax details. Here are some of the key online portals:

  1. Bhoomi (Karnataka): An online portal that offers access to land records and mutation details.

    • Website: https://bhoomionline.co/

  2. Dharani (Telangana): A comprehensive portal for land and property registration details.

    • Website: https://dharani.telangana.gov.in/

  3. Mahabhulekh (Maharashtra): Provides access to 7/12 extracts and property card information.

    • Website: https://bhulekh.mahabhumi.gov.in/

  4. AP Meebhoomi (Andhra Pradesh): An online repository of land records and property details.

    • Website:https://meebhoomi.ap.gov.in/

  5. Tamil Nadu e-Services: Offers access to land records, encumbrance certificates, and property tax details.

    • Website: https://eservices.tn.gov.in/

  6. Bhulekh (Uttar Pradesh): An online platform for land records and property details.

    • Website: https://upbhulekh.gov.in/

  7. Visit the official website of the Delhi Land Records Management System (DLRMS)

    • Website: https://revenue.delhi.gov.in/revenue/land-records.

Steps for Online Property Document Verification

1. Access the Relevant Portal

Identify and access the online portal specific to the state where the property is located. Each state in India typically has its own dedicated website for land and property records.

2. Title Deed Verification

  1. Navigate to the Title Deed Section: Look for the section that allows you to search for title deeds or property ownership details.

  2. Enter Property Details: Input the required property details such as survey number, plot number, or registration number.

  3. Verify Ownership: Check the ownership details displayed and ensure they match with the information provided by the seller.

3. Encumbrance Certificate (EC)

  1. Locate the EC Section: Find the section on the portal dedicated to Encumbrance Certificates.

  2. Input Property Information: Enter the relevant property details, such as document number, year of registration, and property location.

  3. Download the EC: View and download the Encumbrance Certificate, which will show any legal liabilities or encumbrances on the property.

4. Sale Deed Verification

  1. Search for Registered Sale Deeds: Use the portal to search for the registered sale deed related to the property.

  2. Verify Details: Ensure the details on the sale deed match the information provided by the seller, including the names of the buyer and seller, property dimensions, and transaction dates.

5. Approved Building Plan

  1. Access the Building Plan Section: Navigate to the section for approved building plans if available on the portal.

  2. Input Property Information: Enter details such as the property address and survey number.

  3. Verify Plan Approval: Check the approved building plan to ensure it matches the construction on the ground and is approved by the municipal authority.

6. Property Tax Receipts

  1. Locate Property Tax Section: Find the section that provides access to property tax details.

  2. Enter Property ID: Input the property identification number or other relevant details.

  3. Check Tax Payment Status: Verify that all property taxes have been paid up to date and that there are no outstanding dues.

7. Occupancy Certificate (OC)

  1. Search for OC: Use the portal to search for the Occupancy Certificate if the property is already built.

  2. Verify Compliance: Ensure the OC confirms that the building is constructed according to the approved plan and is safe for occupancy.

Visiting Government Offices

Verifying property documents by visiting government offices is a thorough and reliable method to ensure the authenticity of property papers. This process involves interacting with various government departments that maintain records related to property ownership, transactions, and compliance with local laws. Here's how you can go for it:

Sub-Registrar's Office

The Sub-Registrar's office is one of the primary places to visit for property document verification. This office is responsible for the registration of property documents, ensuring that the transactions are legally recorded.

Steps to Verify Documents at the Sub-Registrar's Office:

  1. Title Deed Verification:

    1. Request a certified copy of the title deed from the Sub-Registrar’s office.

    2. Ensure that the title deed is in the name of the seller and check for any discrepancies.

    3. Verify the chain of ownership by examining past transactions recorded in the title deed.

  2. Encumbrance Certificate (EC):

    1. Apply for an Encumbrance Certificate at the Sub-Registrar’s office.

    2. The EC will show any outstanding mortgages, loans, or legal disputes related to the property.

    3. Ensure that the property is free from any encumbrances, indicating clear ownership.

  3. Sale Deed Verification:

    1. Verify the sale deed for the property, ensuring it is registered and contains accurate details.

    2. Check for the presence of all required signatures, including those of the buyer, seller, and witnesses.

Revenue Department

The Revenue Department maintains land records, including details about property ownership, boundaries, and land use.

Steps to Verify Documents at the Revenue Department:

  1. Land Records (Jamabandi/ROR):

    1. Request a copy of the land records (Jamabandi or Record of Rights) from the local revenue office.

    2. Verify the ownership details, property boundaries, and any changes in ownership over time.

  2. Mutation Records:

    1. Check the mutation records to ensure that the property has been duly mutated in the name of the current owner.

    2. Mutation records reflect the transfer of property ownership in the revenue records, crucial for establishing legal ownership.

  3. Land Use Certificate:

    1. Obtain a Land Use Certificate to verify the zoning and permissible usage of the property.

    2. Ensure that the property is being used in accordance with the local zoning laws.

Municipal Corporation

The Municipal Corporation or local municipal body is responsible for approving building plans, issuing occupancy certificates, and maintaining property tax records.

Steps to Verify Documents at the Municipal Corporation:

  1. Approved Building Plan:

    1. Request a copy of the approved building plan from the municipal office.

    2. Ensure that the construction has been approved by the municipal authorities and adheres to local building codes.

  2. Occupancy Certificate (OC):

    1. Obtain a copy of the Occupancy Certificate from the municipal corporation.

    2. The OC confirms that the building is constructed according to the approved plan and is safe for occupancy.

  3. Property Tax Receipts:

    1. Verify the property tax receipts to ensure that the previous owner has paid all dues.

    2. Confirm the property details and ownership as reflected in the municipal tax records.

Development Authority

If the property is part of a larger development, such as a housing society or commercial complex, it’s important to verify documents with the local development authority.

Steps to Verify Documents at the Development Authority:

  1. Development Agreement:

    1. Review the development agreement between the builder and the development authority.

    2. Ensure that the project has all the necessary approvals and adheres to local development regulations.

  2. Completion Certificate: Obtain a Completion Certificate from the development authority, indicating that the construction is complete and meets all regulatory requirements.

  3. NOC from Development Authority: Check for a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the development authority, which indicates that the property complies with local laws and regulations.

Steps to Take During Your Visit

  1. Prepare Documentation:

    1. Gather all relevant property documents, including the sale deed, title deed, encumbrance certificate, approved building plan, and any other documents you have.

    2. Make copies of these documents to submit for verification.

  2. Submit Applications:

    1. Fill out the necessary application forms for obtaining certified copies of documents and certificates.

    2. Submit these applications along with the required fees at the respective government offices.

  3. Follow-Up:

    1. Keep track of your application status and follow up with the government offices if there are any delays.

    2. Collect the verified documents once they are ready.

  4. Legal Assistance: Consider hiring a legal professional to assist you in the verification process, especially if you are unfamiliar with the procedures or face any challenges.

Conclusion

Property document verification is an essential step in any real estate transaction. It helps in safeguarding your investment, ensuring legal compliance, and preventing future disputes. By understanding the importance of verifying property documents and knowing how to conduct a thorough property paper check, you can avoid falling prey to fraudulent activities and ensure a secure and hassle-free property purchase.

Frequently asked questions

Can a property have multiple owners?

Yes, a property can have multiple owners. This is known as joint ownership or co-ownership. In such cases, the property is owned by two or more individuals who have agreed to share the ownership rights.

Who is the main owner of a joint property?

In joint property ownership, there isn't typically a "main" owner. All co-owners hold equal or specified shares in the property as agreed upon in the ownership agreement. However, if one co-owner has a larger share or has more decision-making authority, it should be clearly stated in the ownership documents.

What is the difference between owner and co-owner?

  • Owner: The sole individual who has full ownership rights and control over the property.

  • Co-owner: One of multiple individuals who share ownership rights and responsibilities for the property. Co-owners must make decisions about the property jointly or according to the terms of their agreement.

How to verify ownership of property?

To verify ownership of a property:

  1. Title Deed: Check the title deed, which is the legal document that confirms ownership.

  2. Property Tax Receipts: Verify the name on property tax receipts.

  3. Encumbrance Certificate: Obtain an encumbrance certificate from the sub-registrar's office to check for any legal or financial liabilities on the property.

  4. Registry Office: Visit the local registry office to check the registered documents and confirm ownership.

  5. Lawyer Consultation: Consult a real estate lawyer to help verify the ownership documents.

What documents prove ownership of property?

Documents that prove ownership of property include:

  1. Title Deed: The primary document that proves ownership.

  2. Sale Deed: The document that records the sale and transfer of property.

  3. Property Tax Receipts: Receipts indicating the owner has been paying property taxes.

  4. Encumbrance Certificate: Certificate showing the property is free from any legal or financial liabilities.

  5. Mutation Document: Document showing the transfer of property in the municipal records.

  6. Possession Certificate: Issued by the developer or previous owner, indicating possession of the property.

Can a co-owner sell property?

A co-owner can sell their share of the property, but they must have the consent of the other co-owners, especially if the property is jointly owned without specific shares. Selling the entire property typically requires agreement and signatures from all co-owners.

How to remove a co-owner name from property after death?

To remove a co-owner's name from a property after their death:

  1. Obtain Death Certificate: Get the official death certificate of the deceased co-owner.

  2. Survivorship Deed: If the property is held as joint tenants with right of survivorship, the surviving co-owner(s) can file a survivorship deed.

  3. Will or Succession Certificate: If the deceased co-owner left a will, probate it. If there is no will, obtain a succession certificate from the court.

  4. Transfer Deed: Execute a transfer deed to transfer the deceased co-owner's share to the surviving co-owner(s) or legal heirs.

  5. Update Records: Update the property records at the local municipal office and the land registry.

 

What are the disadvantages of joint property ownership?

  • Decision-Making Conflicts: Disagreements among co-owners can make decision-making difficult.

  • Financial Obligations: Each co-owner is responsible for property-related expenses, and financial disputes can arise.

  • Selling Difficulties: Selling the property requires agreement from all co-owners, which can be challenging to obtain.

  • Inheritance Issues: Complications can arise if a co-owner dies, especially if they haven't left clear instructions for their share.

  • Legal Disputes: Joint ownership can lead to legal disputes if co-owners cannot agree on property management or usage.

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Frequently asked questions

Can a property have multiple owners?

Yes, a property can have multiple owners. This is known as joint ownership or co-ownership. In such cases, the property is owned by two or more individuals who have agreed to share the ownership rights.

Who is the main owner of a joint property?

In joint property ownership, there isn't typically a "main" owner. All co-owners hold equal or specified shares in the property as agreed upon in the ownership agreement. However, if one co-owner has a larger share or has more decision-making authority, it should be clearly stated in the ownership documents.

What is the difference between owner and co-owner?

  • Owner: The sole individual who has full ownership rights and control over the property.

  • Co-owner: One of multiple individuals who share ownership rights and responsibilities for the property. Co-owners must make decisions about the property jointly or according to the terms of their agreement.

How to verify ownership of property?

To verify ownership of a property:

  1. Title Deed: Check the title deed, which is the legal document that confirms ownership.

  2. Property Tax Receipts: Verify the name on property tax receipts.

  3. Encumbrance Certificate: Obtain an encumbrance certificate from the sub-registrar's office to check for any legal or financial liabilities on the property.

  4. Registry Office: Visit the local registry office to check the registered documents and confirm ownership.

  5. Lawyer Consultation: Consult a real estate lawyer to help verify the ownership documents.

What documents prove ownership of property?

Documents that prove ownership of property include:

  1. Title Deed: The primary document that proves ownership.

  2. Sale Deed: The document that records the sale and transfer of property.

  3. Property Tax Receipts: Receipts indicating the owner has been paying property taxes.

  4. Encumbrance Certificate: Certificate showing the property is free from any legal or financial liabilities.

  5. Mutation Document: Document showing the transfer of property in the municipal records.

  6. Possession Certificate: Issued by the developer or previous owner, indicating possession of the property.

Can a co-owner sell property?

A co-owner can sell their share of the property, but they must have the consent of the other co-owners, especially if the property is jointly owned without specific shares. Selling the entire property typically requires agreement and signatures from all co-owners.

How to remove a co-owner name from property after death?

To remove a co-owner's name from a property after their death:

  1. Obtain Death Certificate: Get the official death certificate of the deceased co-owner.

  2. Survivorship Deed: If the property is held as joint tenants with right of survivorship, the surviving co-owner(s) can file a survivorship deed.

  3. Will or Succession Certificate: If the deceased co-owner left a will, probate it. If there is no will, obtain a succession certificate from the court.

  4. Transfer Deed: Execute a transfer deed to transfer the deceased co-owner's share to the surviving co-owner(s) or legal heirs.

  5. Update Records: Update the property records at the local municipal office and the land registry.

 

What are the disadvantages of joint property ownership?

  • Decision-Making Conflicts: Disagreements among co-owners can make decision-making difficult.

  • Financial Obligations: Each co-owner is responsible for property-related expenses, and financial disputes can arise.

  • Selling Difficulties: Selling the property requires agreement from all co-owners, which can be challenging to obtain.

  • Inheritance Issues: Complications can arise if a co-owner dies, especially if they haven't left clear instructions for their share.

  • Legal Disputes: Joint ownership can lead to legal disputes if co-owners cannot agree on property management or usage.

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