The fear of encroachment on a property in Pakistan is quite real for all investors who buy a residential plot of land, especially if they do not or cannot begin construction on the plot immediately after possession. While seeking legal help is the best way to get rid of illegal occupation on a piece of land, there are many ways to prevent encroachment on a plot.
Stay with us as we share some effective tips on how to avoid encroachment on your residential plot so that you can invest in the real estate market with better peace of mind.
Ways to Prevent Encroachment on a Plot
Here are some ways to prevent land encroachment on private property:
- Invest with well-reputed developers only
- Ensure that the land is legally approved for development
- Ensure that the property is officially registered under your name
- Transfer the title deed to your name after possession
- Build a fence around the plot
- Visit the site from time to time
- Complain of signs of encroachment to the local authorities
Now, let’s discuss these tips on how to avoid encroachment in Pakistan in detail below.
Invest with Well Reputed Developers Only
Market research holds critical importance when it comes to investing and buying property, be it a house or a plot. One way to reduce the risk of property encroachments is to always conduct a thorough study of the project prior to investment and to only consider projects that are being built by reputed developers with no legal complaints filed against them for past projects.
Developers who uphold their honest reputation and stay true to the promises made to buyers are more likely to keep a check on the threat of potential encroachments and illegal occupation of their land, especially in far-out parts of the housing community, which are currently unpopulated. Moreover, you’ll also be able to get better help and support from such builders and developers in case of land encroachment on your plot.
Ensure that the Land is Legally Approved for Development
Simply ensuring that the developer has a credible reputation is not enough. You also need to know whether the housing project has been officially approved by the relevant authorities. Many of these governing bodies now have an online presence in Pakistan, and you can easily check their website for both approved as well as illegal projects.
The Capital Development Authority (CDA), Gwadar Development Authority (GDA), Multan Development Authority (MDA), Faisalabad Development Authority (FDA), Lahore Development Authority (LDA), Defence Housing Authority (DHA), Karachi Development Authority (KDA), Peshawar Development Authority (PDA), Quetta Development Authority (QDA), Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA), & Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) are some of the official authorities that approve planning permissions for real estate projects.
Why is it necessary to know that the land has actually been acquired and approved for development? Well, while it may have no direct effect on your investment, unless and until you decide to sell the property, it is easier to file a legal claim against an encroached piece of land if it has been officially approved for development. You can’t really fight a legal battle for a plot of land if it was never yours or the developers, to begin with. Approved land ensures better security of your investment and better chances of retrieval if any illegal occupation does take place.
Ensure That the Property is Officially Registered Under Your Name
When you book a plot on instalments, most developers will not allow you to transfer the property to your name until all of the instalments have been paid. However, you do sign a contract to register the sale of the property, and this is where you need to make sure that the sales deed is in your name. You should also officially declare the sale of the property and get it registered under your name at the local Registrar’s office after completing the instalments.
This small step will ensure that you have legal and documented proof of purchase or booking in case of land encroachment on your residential plot. You should also keep all documents related to the investment in one separate file or folder so that you do not misplace any important papers over time.
Transfer the Title Deed to Your Name After Possession
The process mentioned above is called registry and is mandatory after a sale, but a registry is different from inteqal or mutation. A mutation is the process of transferring the property to your name and is usually done after property possession. The title deed must be in your name if you want to transfer the ownership to another person by selling or gifting the property to them. You can check the property ownership records online to confirm that the deed has been transferred to your name.
Many people often skip this important step in the property buying process because it’s not mandatory. However, it is best to perform a mutation so that you can easily sell the land to another buyer at a later date. What’s more, having both the sales and title deed in your name gives you better credibility when you make a claim for illegal occupation on your plot.
Build a Fence Around the Plot
Wooden fencing, wired fencing, CCTV surveillance, and hiring a caretaker are some other ways to prevent encroachment on a plot, under the condition that the person you are hiring to take care of your property is trustworthy and will not occupy the space himself to accommodate his family. This is an option that is often chosen by overseas Pakistanis, as they cannot visit the site frequently themselves.
However, building a fence and hiring a caretaker for the plot should be paired with the tip given below whenever possible, to ensure that these methods are genuinely effective at keeping encroachments at bay.
Visit the Site from Time to Time
This is a task that is not too difficult for locals but might be challenging for overseas Pakistanis or even for those investors who live in different cities in the country. But in spite of the difficulty of reaching the plot and visiting it personally, we’d recommend doing so at least once in six months. Send a relative or friend who lives nearby to visit the site if you cannot go there yourself for any reason.
In a developing community, you’ll discover just how fast the construction is progressing when you visit the project yourself. In a developed and populated area, you’ll be able to tell if there is a potential threat of occupation by checking out how your neighbours are respecting your space and how your caretaker is performing his duties.
Complain of Signs of Encroachment to the Local Authorities
If you see that the neighbouring plot has been occupied by the neighbouring slums or katchi basti, or that a number of empty plots have makeshift huts propped up here and there, it should ring alarm bells in your head. While it is totally possible that huts belong to designated caretakers, err on the side of caution and do your research on the situation around the project. Contact the developers, the local housing authorities, or the local police for help when you fear an occupation and can see evident signs of it during your visit.
These are some effective ways to prevent encroachment on a plot. Seeking legal help is the best way to get rid of encroachment if you have all of the legal documents at hand. Check out our property investment guide for overseas Pakistanis for more assistance.