A homebuyer purchases a residential property from the seller with bonafide intentions and by paying good consideration to become the owner of that property. After the transfer of ownership and possession from the seller/builder to the buyer, then even the ownership rights and interests that lie therein are also transferred to the buyer. The rights and interests invested in the buyer allow the buyer to enjoy the property within the ambit of the law.
However, the buyer, now a residential property owner, also has certain duties towards the society that regulates the way s/he uses the property so as not to use the property in a way that is injurious to the interests or violative of the rights of others. This article seeks to explain the rights and duties of a residential property owner and highlight their correlation.
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The Rights of a residential property owner
The proprietary rights vested in an owner with regard to his or her property are called rights in rem and are available to the owner against the entire world. For instance, if a stranger were caught trespassing on the owner’s property without the owner’s consent, the trespasser can be punished under the law for violating the proprietary rights of the owner. The rights of the residential property owner are the following:
- Right to possession of the property
- Right to control the property as s/he wishes
- Right to use and quiet enjoyment of the property
- Right to allow others to use the property (eg. lease and license)
- Right to privacy and to exclude others
- Right to dispose or transfer property through gift, sale or inheritance
- Right to pledge, mortgage or use the property as collateral for availing loans
When it comes to having rights to the property there are also secondary rights called easements that a property owner can access. Rights like right to light, right of way, right to water etc. are easements that allow the owner to enjoy the property to its fullest extent.
- The right to possession of residential property means that the property is held by a particular and is occupied by the person. For instance, the registered owner of a residential property resides in that property with his or her family in the exercise of the right to possession.
- The right to control, use and quietly enjoy the property consists of the owner using the property as he or she sees fit. The owner’s property occupies the property in quiet enjoyment of his or her property and is well within his or her rights to use legally reasonable methods to prevent anyone from interfering with such enjoyment.
- The right to allow others to use the property. This right is exercised by the owner as an extension of the above-mentioned rights and it is the owner’s prerogative as to how s/he allows others to use his or her property. For instance, it is up to the owner to decide whether to self-occupy the property or let out the property to others for earning rent.
- Right to privacy and to exclude others from using your property stems from the fact that proprietary rights are rights in rem. A homeowner has the rights to whatever s/he pleases behind the closed doors of the property (as long as it does not interfere with others’ rights) and can legally prevent others from interfering with your rights to privacy and quiet enjoyment.
- As the owner of your property, you can dispose of your property as you legally deem fit. This includes selling it to another for consideration, gifting it to a family member, transferring property through testamentary disposition, etc. For instance, an owner can ensure that a particular individual will inherit his or her property by incorporating such provision in a will prepared by the owner.
- The right to pledge or mortgage property for availing loans from the lenders is another proprietary right which is an extension of the right to use the property as the homeowner deems fit.
The obligations of a Homeowner
However, a residential owner also has duties or obligations that come with the ownership of residential property:
Obligation towards neighbors and fellow homeowners:
“No man is an island” is a quote that is perfectly applicable to highlight the obligations of a homeowner. A homeowner has the right to quietly enjoy his or her property. This means that the homeowner’s enjoyment of his or her property should not interfere with his or her neighbor’s or fellow homeowners’ rights. For instance, a homeowner can listen to music or host parties on his or her property, but if the music or party causes a nuisance to his or her neighbors or fellow homeowners, it is a violation of their rights.
Obligation towards the Government:
When you become a homeowner, there are certain obligations you are saddled with that make you liable for paying taxes to the Government. Municipal authorities levy property taxes on homeowners because it is a source of revenue for them. The Income Tax Act has provisions that levy tax from a homeowner on income that falls under the income head “Income from house property”.
On the purchase and sale of the property, there are charges like registration charges and stamp duty levied on homebuyers when registering property and taxes levied on the capital gains made by the home seller on the sale of the property. If these charges are not met or if the taxes are not paid, penalties and fines may be levied to penalize the party for non-fulfillment of the obligation.
Duty of care owed by the owner:
A homeowner has a duty of care owed to the society at large to ensure that his or her property is well-maintained and safe for anyone who visits such property or chooses to reside or use the property with the consent of the homeowner. If anybody was to get injured on the property due to the homeowner’s negligence or lack of maintenance of the property, the homeowner is held accountable for the injury and is held liable for it.
- A homeowner is liable to pay the electricity bills, water bill and for other periodic amenities provided to the homeowner’s property.
- If the homeowner is a member of a residential co-operative society, then the homeowner is liable to pay society maintenance charges that are levied on the homeowner for the maintenance and upkeep of the residential co-operative society. This is because the properties of the co-operative are commonly shared by the members and hence they are liable for the upkeep of these properties.
- If you have availed a home loan to purchase the property, you are liable to pay the monthly EMI on time to effectively repay the home loan amount. This is because if you fail to make the repayments for an extended duration of time, the bank can seize your property and sell it to recover the loan amount from the sale proceeds.
The rights and duties of a homeowner go hand in hand when it comes to owning property. There are two sides of the same coin and are transferred to the homebuyer when the property is transferred to him or her. These complementary rights and duties arise on account of using, enjoyment, and disposition of property that need to be within the bounds of the law.
If a proprietary right of a homeowner interferes with the rights of his or her fellow members of society, it constitutes a violation of their rights and a breach of his or her duties. Hence, while enjoying your property to the fullest extent, you need to ensure that you do not infringe on the rights of others.