Your property-related legal queries answered by Rank Associates, a law firm that primarily deals in these matters

We have some ancestral land in Tamil Nadu and have all the documents in our possession to prove it. A civil suit is pending in the Munsif court for 21 years now, filed by persons claiming they have right to the property. These persons are not related to us. The case continues to drag on and has still not reached the trial stage. What are the options available to us to speed up the case? Can we use the RTI Act?

Madhavan Kutty,

Coimbatore

It is difficult to comment on your query without knowing the facts and circumstances leading to the filing of the Suit by the claimants. Please find out from your lawyer the various options available to you under law to expedite the matter. If you require any document from the Government to support your case, you can use the provisions of the RTI Act for obtaining the same.

A flat is jointly owned by me and my daughter. I wish that she becomes the sole owner of the flat after my lifetime. Will she become the sole owner automatically or should I take some legal steps now to ensure it. Please advise.

Chary, Chennai

Your daughter will become the sole owner of the property after your lifetime, if she is your only legal heir at that point of time. Otherwise, you can either execute a Will or make a Deed of Settlement in respect of your half share in the property. A Will takes effect after the lifetime of the person executing the same and since you reside in Chennai, the Will has to be probated. Under a Deed of Settlement, the title passes now and no further action would be required thereafter. It is also possible to retain a life interest for yourself (right to reside in the property and right to enjoy the income from the property) while executing the Deed of Settlement.

I wish to enter into a Joint Venture with a builder for my property of three grounds. I am having my own reservations about giving a power of attorney to a Builder, as he may use the power to suit his interests, while ignoring my interests, for example, enabling himself to build and sell his portion of the building and put me (ie,the land owner) on an indefinite wait. Some people advise the use of ‘ Escrow’ to safeguard my interests. So I request you to kindly explain the concept of 'Escrow'. Also, what is the course of action (in practice) if the Builder insists on the power of attorney being given to him? And if so, what are my safeguards? Please advise me the safest course of action that the Builder will agree to.

S.Niranjanan. Chennai

There are several ways to protect the interest of the land owners. Normally, a Deed of Power of Attorney is backed by a Joint Development Agreement. The Developer can exercise the powers only in accordance with the terms of the Agreement. A Power of Attorney can also be granted in stages i.e., initially, for obtaining approvals and sanctions and subsequently for sale of the Developer's share. The concept of Escrow is involving a neutral party to perform certain functions after ensuring compliance of their respective obligations by the Developer and the Owner. This course is adopted for holding the earnest money/advance in trust or custody of original title deeds.

We had given our land for joint venture with a builder in Chennai. The building was completed in 2012 and the builder has sold 45 per cent of his share. The owner's share is 55 per cent and they have handed over to the land owner. What is the formal paperwork to be done while handing over the owner's share? Should the power of attorney be transferred to the owner? Does the common place in the building belong to all the owners in the apartment? We have not measured the complete built-up area. If we find any deviations, what do we do about it?

Aishwarya, Chennai

In a Joint Development scenario, the Parties enter into a Supplemental Agreement when the building plans are approved. This Supplemental Agreement captures the units allotted to the Builder together with the proportionate share in land and the units that are being constructed by the Builder for the Owners and the undivided share of land proportionate to each such unit.

Once the building is completed, it is advisable to obtain a letter from the Builder confirming that the Owners' entitlement are being duly handed over and all accounts between the Parties have been fully settled.

Before accepting possession, the Owners should ensure that the measurements of the Flat and the specifications and quality of construction are as per agreed terms. Otherwise, the Owners can insist on rectifications and compliances before taking possession. The common areas will always be common for all the flat owners.