‘Haveli’ properties, of which many exist in India (especially in Rajasthan, Delhi and Gujarat) are private residences dating back to historic times that are no longer in active use. These properties tend to be quite magnificent and are usually major tourist attractions where they exist. As such, they are of interest to affluent property buyers from India or abroad. However, purchasing such historic properties is not a straightforward affair.
Three major aspects need to be considered while buying haveli properties in India:
• Title of the property: This is the most critical aspect, particularly since there are likely to be heir-based claims on the property.
• Legal due diligence, particularly from the perspective of the body that has jurisdiction over these properties (such as the Wakf Board) and ascertaining any historical disputes would be essential. These bodies will assist in clarifying the ownership of the property.
• Liabilities related to the subject property: In terms of water and electricity dues, property tax (if applicable), etc.
It should be borne in mind that an ancestral property may be a notified heritage site in the centre-specified, state-specified or urban local body list. Potential buyers therefore need to check the applicable restrictions related to such a property's approved use, redevelopment, refurbishment or any kind of modification. Moreover, checks also need to be done with the Master Plan of the relevant city and the relevant Town and Country Planning office to ascertain the applicability of laws.
With haveli properties, there are often instances of misappropriation by parties with vested interests. These parties may put in efforts to prevent or delay the sale of such properties by lodging false claims on them, usually with a view to extorting financial gain. Naturally, this causes problems for both the buyer and the legitimate seller.
This is why a detailed legal due diligence needs to be done before considering the purchase of such a property. It is also advisable to conduct a general discussion with residents living around the subject property, as well as the police in whose jurisdiction the property falls, to obtain as much feedback on the history of the property as possible. Such discussions can help indicate potential areas where additional due diligence may be required.