What to do when the documents of the houses or land are lost?

Property documents

Property documents are very important for sale and purchase. Sale deed of the land or house is the most significant document which if lost can lead to several obstacles. A person cannot buy or sell the property without the documents. Also, loan cannot be taken on the property without having all the important documents. A sale deed is an evidence which shows that the property is free from encumbrance and lien.

Many a times these documents are misplaced by the owner of the property, which creates problems. So, what if the owner loses these documents? Can anyone get the duplicate copies of the documents? If yes, then what is the procedure to get the duplicate sale deed of the land or house? The answers to these questions are significant for the people whose property documents are lost or stolen.

Procedure to be followed to get back lost documents

Following are the steps which can help to trace back the important documents:

  • The primary task in case the owner is not able to find the documents is to file the First Information Report (FIR) under Section 154 of The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. All the details of the document should be told while filing the report. This step can help the owner to get back the lost papers. In case the police is not able to find the documents then the copy of FIR will help the owner in getting the duplicate papers. So it is the most important step which should be taken as soon as possible.
  • The second step is to post an advertisement in a national and local newspaper. The copy of the FIR will be needed for this and keep the cuttings of newspaper too. The owner of lost documents will have to wait for 15 days for the response of any person who has found the lost documents.

Procedure to be followed to get the duplicate documents

In case the owner fails to get any information about the lost documents from FIR or advertisements in newspapers, the procedure for getting the duplicate documents is to be followed. Following are the steps:

  • Filing FIR and keeping the copy of FIR.
  • Making advertisements mentioning the details of documents lost in both national and local newspapers and keeping newspaper cuttings.
  • The next step is to prepare an affidavit on stamp paper which should include the details of property and that the owner has lost the property documents. It should be signed by the owner and copy of FIR and advertisements should be attached. The affidavit is to be registered with the notary.
  • Then from the Registrar Office, the following documents are to be submitted:
  • Copy of FIR;
  • Advertisements of lost documents;
  • Affidavit attested by the owner of lost documents;
  • Application for duplicate sale deed

After the submission of these documents, the copy of sale deed will be delivered to the applicant or owner.

Cases in which documents are lost by banks

In many instances, in case of loans, when the original documents of property (sale deed) are kept with banks, banks loses the documents. In these cases it is very important to take steps with full caution. Following points should be kept in mind in this situation:

  • In case any page from the original documents is missing, donot sign any acknowledgment/undertaking given by the bank.
  • File a complaint with the bank officials in writing, in regard to missing property documents.
  • Lodge a complaint in police station against the bank and keep the copy of FIR.
  • Give an advertisement in newspapers mentioning the details of documents and keep the cutting of newspapers.
  • The owner of documents should approach court having the jurisdiction with all the proofs which show the banks negligence.
  • Banks are usually ordered to provide compensation to the owner of documents.

For example in a case of 2009, The district consumer disputes redressal forum, Chandigarh, directed the State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, Sector 17, to pay `50,000 as compensation to a city-based couple for harassing them by losing the original documents of their mortgaged property while securing loan.[i]

Similarly, in another case Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission had penalised a foreign bank for losing the original sale deed of a property owner in Mulund, who was unable to sell the apartment in the absence of the documents. The bank was made to pay Rs 1.15 lakhs compensation to the property owner who had taken a loan of Rs 9 lakhs and had even repaid it.[ii] 

Stolen documents

Section 410 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 gives the definition of “stolen property”.  In case anyone steals the property documents, the owner can file a case under Section 410 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, which deals with stolen property. Similarly, a case can be filed against a person under Section 411 of IPC who receives or retains the stolen documents.

If any person dishonestly misappropriates or uses the property documents in violation of any direction of law and commits breach of trust then he/she can be charged under Section 406 of IPC. It is a non-bailable and cognizable offence with imprisonment for a term extending upto 3 years and fine.

Knowing the proper procedure can help people in solving their problems without facing worries and within the time. So in case one misplaces his/her land or house documents, the first step is to lodge an FIR in the police station and to give advertisements in newspapers. In case owner fails to get any response from police or anyone through advertisements, procedure for getting duplicate documents are to be followed and duplicate copy of documents will be received, which would enable the owner of property to sell it or carry out other tasks. Also, in case of stolen property and Criminal breach of trust, offences under Indian Penal Code come into picture.

Edited by Pragash Boopal

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje


[i] Hindustan Times, Bank penalised for losing original documents of mortgaged property, https://www.hindustantimes.com/chandigarh/bank-penalised-for-losing-original-documents-of-mortgaged-property/story-odIlIZS86z7IHWfxzlMSsN.html (Last visited on August 12, 2019, 12.01 AM)

[ii]Money Control, Things to do if the banks loses the original sale deed of a property https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/real-estate/things-to-do-if-the-bank-loses-the-original-sale-deed-of-a-property-2550341.html (Last visited on August 12, 2019, 12.05 AM)

Ritika Sharma
I am Ritika Sharma, pursuing B.com LLB (Hons.) from University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh. My fields of interest are Law and psychology. I love to research and write articles and poems on social issues. I have a penchant for reading novels of different genres. When I am not reading or writing, I am probably sketching and watching movies. I like exploring and knowing the facts of mysterious places and incidents as well.