As rent and lease agreements go digital, long-distance is in - Hindustan Times
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As rent and lease agreements go digital, long-distance is in

Hindustan Times | By
May 04, 2019 09:03 PM IST

When businessman Gautam Ghosh, who lives in Dubai, wanted to get new tenants for his flat in Thane last October, he was in a fix about how to go about finalising the leave-and-licence agreement. Typically, he would make a trip all the way here to sign the agreement and have it registered.

When businessman Gautam Ghosh, who lives in Dubai, wanted to get new tenants for his flat in Thane last October, he was in a fix about how to go about finalising the leave-and-licence agreement.

(iStock)
(iStock)

Typically, he would make a trip all the way here to sign the agreement and have it registered. “This time, I couldn’t make the trip because of work. To my surprise, my tenant in Mumbai told me I could do the entire process virtually, without even needing to visit the registrar’s office.”

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Ghosh then approached a company that specialises in helping people with online registrations.

They sent him a biometric device and on a date convenient for both, they configured his computer according to the revenue department’s norms through remote access.

Once the device and the laptop were in sync, his thumb impression was taken with the biometric device and as it matched his Aadhaar details, the agreement was considered signed, valid and authenticated. The e-process was launched in Maharashtra in 2014 and has gained popularity in the last few years.

Overall, digitisation in real-estate is making processes easier, quicker and more transparent for consumers and developers. In December last year, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) started a facility for developers to apply online for construction permits to install new amenities. Even for the sale of property, while one still has to visit the revenue office to register the new deed, the details are now updated online.

“This has brought about a lot of transparency about the status of a property. The transparency and digital documentation is also improving ease of business,” says Gulam Zia, executive director for advisory, retail and hospitality at consultancy Knight Frank India.

One of the biggest advantages of the online leave-and-licence agreement is that this format is flexible and scheduling can be altered to suit the requirements of the two parties, says Manju Yagnik, vice-chairperson of the Nahar Group and vice-president of the National Real Estate Development Council or NAREDCO in Maharashtra

“With many realty investors living in different cities, states and countries, this makes things convenient and transparent,” Yagnik says.

FIXING THE BUGS

When Ghosh tried to get his other property, in Mahim, registered for rent in April, the server was down for five days. “The system is linked to Aadhaar, so both the Aadhaar server and the Inspector General of Registration servers need to be working at the same time. That didn’t happen and we had to keep shifting the registration dates,” says an agent who provides online registration services.

Even when the system does work, it’s far from perfect.

“Complete digitisation is the way to go,” says Pankaj Kapoor, CEO of real-estate consultancy Liases Foras. “There is still a big gap in this respect. The future is an Aadhaar-like system with unique ID number that would hold all the necessary details for a particular property. This would make it much easier to get a title insurance or mortgage, as in countries like the US and UK. Once a system like that is in place, probably you can monitor a land fraud sitting at home. But now you cannot track if the same property has been sold to two people, which is the kind of fraud that still happens.”

Yagnik adds that emerging technology like blockchain should also be used. “Blockchain has the potential to eliminate transactional risk from the registration system. If records are stored on blockchain, things could become more efficient, more accessible and more secure. Blockchain could replace local real-estate records as the primary channel of property information,” she says.

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