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Understanding Immovable Property: Types, Legal Rights, & Meaning

What Is Immovable Property?

As the name suggests, you would assume an immovable property is an asset that cannot be moved.

That is broadly correct, however, the legal definition of immovable property is more specific.

Apart from the fact that these properties cannot be moved from one place to another; immovable properties are attached to the land.

Thus, a plantation, house, agricultural land, commercial property, factory, office premises, warehouse; are all examples of immovable property. One of the unique feature of immovable property in India is that for immovable property, the registration, payment of stamp duty and related taxes are state subjects.

Classification of Immovable Property

Having understood the immovable property meaning, we must understand what are the sub-classifications of immovable property. Broadly, there are 3 types of immovable properties viz. Structures, Fixed Attachments, and Landscaping. Here is what they are and they also cover the immovable property examples.

  • The first item of structures, as the name suggests is about the concrete structures comprising of bricks and cement that forms the basis of buildings and structures including bridges, tunnels etc. These are engineering driven.
  • The fixed attachments include the value of fixtures, fittings, lightings, value of attached paintings, all of which are treated as part of immovable property. Some of them like carvings, sculptures, wall paintings and chandeliers can be highly valuable.
  • Lastly, there is landscaping, which includes gardens, lawns, ponds, plants, trees etc, which form more of the exterior look and feel of the immovable property. That is also part of the immovable property.

You can see from the immovable property examples how the immovable property meaning is more than simply ‘cannot be moved’.

How is Immovable Property Different from Movable Property?

There are several ways in which immovable property is intrinsically different from moveable property. Here are some highlights.

  1. The most important difference arises on registration and the payment of transfer charges. In an immovable property, all properties to be legal, have to be registered such that they identify the owners. This must be done under the Indian Registration Act 1908.
    In the case of movable property, no such registration is required. For example, you can directly buy shares in the market and get into your demat account. Also, when you transfer immovable property, stamp duty is payable under the Indian Stamp Act 1899. No such stamp duty is payable on transfer in case of moveable properties.
  2. Most immovable properties are distinct and can be easily classified and seen. For example, a plot of land is visible and also can be identified by the ownership papers and the coordinates provided.
    However, in the case of movable properties like bank FDs, or shares or mutual funds, they are fungible, although ownership is identified.
  3. Let us look how transfer and hypothecation work in case of movable and immovable properties.
    In the case of immovable properties, all transfers can only be done by a sale deed, will, or gift deed. No such deed is required for transfer of movable properties like shares, mutual funds, bonds etc.
    Also, the hypothecation of immovable properties can only happen through mortgage or lien on property. In case of movable property, the hypothecation happens by way of pledge.
    Let us finally turn to the rights associated with the ownership of immovable property

Immovable Property – Associated Rights

As the owner of the property, there are some inalienable rights that you get to enjoy on the property.

  • Right of usage: You can use the property for residential purposes or commercial purposes (subject to society laws) and the owner can also lease out the property to a tenant and collect the rent on the property. The owner has an unfettered right to use, in any of the above legitimate methods.
  • The right to transfer: Subject to not having any lien or liability to the lender or guarantor. This includes right to sell, right to mortgage the property, right to will, right to gift the property etc. They must be done by legal sale deeds and registered.
  • Right to leverage the property: Example, the owner of the property can mortgage the property to raise funds, enter into a reverse mortgage agreement for regular rentals and also show it as part of their net worth to evidence long term interest in India for global visa requirements.
  • Right of eviction: The owner of the property also has the right of eviction through legal means in specific cases. An encroacher can be evicted by legal notice and then by recourse to law. Similarly, a tenant who does not pay the rents can be evicted with notice and appropriate legal action if necessary. The owner is also within his rights to fence the property to prevent trespass and encroachment.

In addition, there are other specific rights like fishing and plying vessels, but that may be for another discussion altogether. This will give a good idea of immovable property meaning with appropriate immovable property examples.

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