Legal tips for buying agricultural land in India

Buying an agricultural land, as opposed to a regular plot, requires additional due diligence. We examine the things to watch out for and the procedure to use the land for non-agricultural purposes

Buying a piece of land, for many, is the first step towards building one’s own home. Hence, it is important to confirm that the land has a clear and marketable title, to avoid falling into legal hassles. While buying agricultural land in India, one has to confirm that there are no disputes or legal hassles and the process of registering has to be hassle-free. Procedures for buying agricultural land vary from state to state.

In some states like Telangana, anyone can buy agricultural land, regardless of whether or not they are farmers. However in other states, like Karnataka, only registered farmers or those from farming families can buy agricultural land. Therefore, one should be aware of the rules in the state, prior to buying agricultural land. Given below are some of the points that one should consider, for buying agricultural land in India.

 

Title deed of the land plot

The title of the property confirms the seller’s name and also verifies whether the seller has an absolute right to sell the property. The original present deed and previous deeds, should be examined by a lawyer, to verify that the seller has not allowed access to others through this land. If there is more than one person owning the land, it is important to have the release certificate from the other participants involved, before registering the documents.

 

Agreement

After the verification of all the documents, a written agreement on the cost, advance payment and the time within which the actual sale will take place, is made. The agreement must be drawn by a lawyer and should be signed by both the parties and two witnesses.

 

Stamp duty on the land

Stamp duties are government taxes and vary from state to state. A stamp duty paid shall be considered a legal document and can be admitted in court, as evidence.

See also: The pros and cons of buying agricultural land

 

Registration of the land

Registration is the process by which a copy of a document is recorded and the title of the immovable property is transferred in the name of the buyer, at the registrar’s office. As per the Indian Registration Act 1908, the deed should be registered at the sub-registrar’s office, within four months of the date of the execution of the document. Details such as original title deed, previous deeds, house tax receipts and two witnesses for registration of the property, should be provided in the document.

 

Conveyance deed or sale deed of the land

A sale deed is a document that transfers the title of the property, from the seller to the buyer. This document will help you to determine ownership of the property, where the property is located and the details such as site measurement, boundary details, etc.

 

Tax receipt and bills

The buyer should check the latest property tax bills and can ask for the same at municipal offices. The buyer must also ensure that notices or requests relating to the property are not outstanding. Water, electricity are other bills, should be up to date.

 

Encumbrance certificate

An encumbrance certificate may be obtained from the sub-registrar’s office, for the last 13 or 30 years, to ensure that the land has no legal duties or complaints.

 

Measuring the land

A recognised surveyor can ensure that the measurements of the plot and its boundaries are accurate and as indicated in the title certificate.

 

Changing the title of the land in the village office

The entire legal procedure for the purchase of the property is completed, only if the name of the new owner is added to the village office record. An application can be made to the village office, together with a copy of the registered deed.

 

Purchasing land from NRI land owners

A person staying abroad can sell his or her land in India, by authorising a third party to sell the land on his or her behalf. In such cases, the power of attorney should be witnessed and duly signed by an officer in his province’s Indian embassy.

 

Important guidelines to convert agricultural land into non-agricultural use

  • Any development, which has to be undertaken in agricultural land, should take place only after converting the land into non-agricultural use.
  • An application form has to be submitted to the concerned authorities, clarifying the reason behind conversion.
  • The necessary documents like sale deed, tax paid receipt and mutation letter, have to be submitted with the application form, along with details like the dimensions and extent.
  • Depending on the property and locality, a fee should be paid for the land to be converted to non-agricultural purposes.
  • The authorised person, like the deputy commissioner or the collector, will permit conversion of the land if the necessary conditions have been met and no litigation is pending.
  • The land is declared non-agricultural land, after it receives the official conversion certificate.

Above all, when buying a property, home buyers should check the previous land records and always buy it from a trusted and renowned developer.

(The writer is managing director, Century Real Estate)

 

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