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Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), under RBI guidelines, can purchase certain kinds of properties, though other forms may require special permissions. Thus every NRI, interested in buying property in India, must be aware of the provisions related to purchase or ownership of immovable property in India under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and NRIs are always treated the same when it comes to investing in real estate.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has given general permission to NRIs for any residential or commercial property in India. They do not need to seek any special permission from RBI or send any intimation in this regard. NRIs can purchase any number of commercial or residential properties in India. The income tax laws also favour NRIs. In case the NRI is not able to come to India, he/she has the power to give anyone power of attorney who will execute the deal likewise.
However, the RBI does not allow NRIs to purchase agricultural land or plantation property in India. Under existing regulations, NRIs can’t also purchase farmhouses in India. To purchase farmhouses, the NRI has to take special permission, which will be considered on a case-to-case basis. It is possible for an NRI to purchase property jointly with another NRI. However, any person not authorised to invest in property in India or a resident Indian, cannot become a joint holder irrespective of his/her contribution towards the purchase.
If a person who owns a property in India becomes an NRI, he can continue holding the property in his name in India. Interestingly, an NRI will be allowed to hold agricultural land, farmhouse and plantation property if he purchased them before becoming an NRI. He can also let out the property without considering the fact when it was acquired. It is possible to remit the rent received from such properties after appropriate Indian taxes have been paid on such rent. NRIs can also gift or sell any immovable property to a person residing in India.
The NRI can even gift or transfer any property to any NRI, provided it’s not a farmhouse, plantation property or agricultural property.