Owning property involves a lot of regulations and technicalities. In the case of joint properties, this is even more apparent as one owner might want to sell that property, but the others may not agree. Such cases can get quite complicated, so there are multiple laws in Pakistan governing the ownership and transfer of joint property. There are multiple mechanisms in place you should be aware of if you’re venturing into buying a property with co-buyers or want to sell your share of a joint property.
First of all, when multiple people are buying property together, a co-ownership agreement should be drafted and should be signed by all parties in the presence of an impartial referee. This should cover the issues related to the ownership, distribution, and management of the property. The price of the property, the date of the agreement, and the responsibilities of the co-owners should be clearly stated in the agreement so that there will be definite legal cover for any future misunderstandings or conflict.
Selling and transferring joint property has a lot more procedures than property owned by a single person. If one owner wants to sell the property, he/she cannot in any way sell the whole property unless the other owners are also involved in the transaction. Under Section 44 of the Property Act 1882, a co-owner can only sell the joint property to the extent of his/her own share. However, if a share in a common dwelling is being sold, the buyer will not be able to use that property for his/her personal use. This falls to the disadvantage of both the seller and the buyer. As joint property is commonly used as shared dwellings by joint families, this is a common problem with the transfer of jointly owned property in Pakistan.
In the case of Punjab, this problem has been brought under the legal umbrella through the Punjab Partition of Immovable Property Act 2012. This states that before a person sells their share in a joint property, all the co-owners have to partition that property in writing in the presence of an impartial referee. Anyone who wants to sell their share can only sell the part they have been given, preferably with the property being physically partitioned as well. The consent of all the co-owners is necessary under this law. The referee can also allow the combination of the shares of two or more co-owners with their written consent. The question of paying the referee according to the co-owners’ shares shall be decided by the court.
A common concern with joint property is the chance of one or more of the co-owners being dispossessed without their consent. The Specific Relief Act of 1877 deals with this concern and allows plaintiffs to sue the people dispossessing them from their shares illegally. Bringing this case to court involves bringing written proof of possession by the plaintiff. If this case is won, then the plaintiff can be restored to their previous state of possession.
In conclusion, according to legal experts, as long as you and your co-owners put everything down in writing and have clear agreements about the sharing and status of jointly owned property. They also recommended that joint property should be developed in such a way that it can easily be partitioned in the future if one owner wants to sell their share.