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Lenders shall release property documents within 30 days after repayment of loans

In a move aimed at enhancing customer protection and streamlining lending practices, the Reserve Bank of India has issued comprehensive guidelines directing regulated entities to release property documents within a specific time frame after loan repayment. The new directives, effective from December 1, 2023, seek to address discrepancies in the release of movable and immovable property documents, which have led to customer grievances and disputes in the past.

In terms of the guidelines on Fair Practices Code issued to various REs since 2003, REs are required to release all movable/immovable property documents upon receiving full repayment and closure of loan account. However, it has been observed that the REs follow divergent practices in release of such movable/immovable property documents leading to customer grievances and disputes. To address the issues faced by the borrowers and towards promoting responsible lending conduct among the REs, RBI has issued the following directions to all commercial banks (including small finance banks and regional rural banks, excluding Payments Banks), all local area banks, all UCBs, all StCBs and DCCBs, All NBFCs (including HFCs) and all asset reconstruction companies:

The REs should release all the original movable/immovable property documents and remove charges registered with any registry within a period of 30 days after full repayment/ settlement of the loan account. The borrower shall be given the option of collecting the original movable / immovable property documents either from the banking outlet / branch where the loan account was serviced or any other office of the RE, where the documents are available, as per her / his preference. The timeline and place of return of original movable / immovable property documents will be mentioned in the loan sanction letters issued on or after the effective date. In order to address the contingent event of demise of the sole borrower or joint borrowers, the REs should have a well laid out procedure for return of original movable / immovable property documents to the legal heirs. Such procedure shall be displayed on the website of the REs along with other similar policies and procedures for customer information.

In case of delay in releasing of original documents or failing to file charge satisfaction form with relevant registry beyond 30 days, the RE shall communicate to the borrower reasons for such delay. In case where the delay is attributable to the RE, it shall compensate the borrower at the rate of Rs 5,000 for each day of delay. In case of loss/damage to original movable / immovable property documents, either in part or in full, the REs shall assist the borrower in obtaining duplicate/certified copies of the movable / immovable property documents and shall bear the associated costs, in addition to paying compensation. However, in such cases, an additional time of 30 days will be available to the REs to complete this procedure and the delayed period penalty will be calculated thereafter (i.e., after a total period of 60 days). The compensation provided under these directions shall be without prejudice to the rights of a borrower to get any other compensation as per any applicable law. These directions shall be applicable to all cases where release of original movable/immovable property documents falls due on or after December 1, 2023.

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