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Suresh Chandar (service)     07 June 2021

Legal liabilities of the heirs of a dilapidated house if it crumbles down and causes harm to people and property

There is a dilapidated house in uttarakhand in the name of my mother in law ( now mother in law and father in law , both are dead). My wife has one sister and one brother.
The house is in very bad condition. If it crumbles down and causes harm to others, will my wife have criminal liability as she is one of heir to this property.


 11 Replies

Sankaranarayanan (Advocate)     07 June 2021

What you like to ask? All legal heirs are have equal rights in it .

G.L.N. Prasad (Retired employee.)     08 June 2021

Your doubt is legitimate.  If the house is located in a crowded and busy area if the house collapses there may be harmful to the public and there is a likely claim for compensation by such victims against owners of that hazardous property..  In fact, the Municipality/Corporation has such duty and responsibility, at least after devastating and frequent floods in the state, to identify such hazardous buildings, issue a notice for demolition, and if there is no response demolishing the same and recovering the amount.

TO my knowledge, if there is a collapse of such a dilapidated building you may as co-sharer be held responsible to compensate the loss to such victims.  But I am not aware as to whether the property can be shown belonging to all co-sharers as this is not divided into metes and bounds.   You have also not disclosed the fact as to whether the property was legally inherited by your wife or others.  It appears that the property as per Revenue records disclosed the name of your wife's parents.

Yes.  There is a risk to the person in whose name the property stands in revenue records.

Kishor Mehta (CEO)     08 June 2021

You should immediately issue notice to the residents of the house to vacate, informing them about the dilapidated conditions of the house and stating that if they continue to reside it will be at their own risks. You should endorse a copy to the local municipal and police authorities. 

Suresh Chandar (service)     08 June 2021

Thanks Mr G.L.N. Prasad for detailed reply.The property was inherited by my wife's mother from her mother long time back. My wife's mother died around 8 years back. My wife's father died 4 years back. In the land records, the property is still in my wife's mother name. There is no mention in the land records of my wife's name as well her sister and brother's name is also not there.
There are two tenants on the property but they don't live there and locked their portion. So as such there is nobody living there right now. All house tax as well as rent related matters are being looked after by my wife's brother.
Kindly let me , will there be legal/criminal liability of my wife in case the house crumbles down and causes harm to people and property of others.

G.L.N. Prasad (Retired employee.)     08 June 2021

One can not foretell what happens tomorrow.  When there is a likely risk, one must avoid it in time by taking precautions.  In case of any such collapse of the building, unfortunately., your wife's position becomes very sensitive.  She can not deny responsibility, as such denial may be admitting that she has no share in the property.  So first thing first, let there be settlement first within wife's family, between her, her sister, and brother through a legally valid deed.  This after giving notices to the parties for vacation. as owners wish to strengthen the building and made modifications. ( once again you have not disclosed as to whether tenants are paying rents and whether your BIL is sending proportionate rent) . For the present, you may ask your BIL to obtain a certificate from an approved valuer/structural engineer about the life of the building.   If the tenants failed to vacate after notice, the matter has to be reported to the local authority (Panchayat/Municipality) informing them the dangerous position of the building, and your attempts in failing to get the portion vacated.  Now Central Govt has brought a separate act, and you may study the simple act by downloading the same and use it to get the tenant vacated.

Vasundhara Singh (Student)     08 June 2021


After the death of the parents, the brother and sister will be getting equal shares in the property as they are the legal heirs. Generally, it is the responsibility of the owner to maintain the house so it does not become a nuisance for others. If the owner is interested in letting the house for rent, then as per Section 108 of Transfer of Property Act, it is his or her responsibility to disclose all the facts if there is any material defect with the property or repair the property himself before giving it on lease.  

If the property is occupied by the owner himself, he owes a duty of care to all the people staying in and around the house. If the fragile condition of the house causes harm or interference to any other person then the owner will be liable for nuisance and negligence and proceedings can be started against him or her in a civil court depending on the harm caused to the opposite party.  

Best Regards,         

Vasundhara Singh  

T. Kalaiselvan, Advocate (Advocate)     08 June 2021

Since the title owners are no more, the property automatically devolves on their legal heirs/successors in interest.

In the given circumstances, you have stated that your brother in law is taking care of the maintenance including the collection of rent, it can be assumed that he is acting on behalf of all the legal heirs to do such acts on the property which is co-shared by all the legal heirs.

Since the hours property is in dilapidated condition then it becomes the duty of the owner of the house/the cosharers to take necessary action that the dilapidated building do not cause any harm or injuries either to the inhabitants/tenants or to the neighbors living next to this building which may fall down anytime.  

Your wife or her siblings to discuss and get a certificate about the condition of the house and seek permission from the local civic body  to demolish the dilapidated building owing to the safety of the tenants or neighbors.


P. Venu (Advocate)     08 June 2021

Yes, the property is jointly vested with the legal heirs, your wife included. They need to to take a joint decision. What is the stand of your brother-in-law?

Dr J C Vashista (Advocate)     09 June 2021

All legal representatives of deceased titleholder (Owner) of the property shall devolve upon them and they shall be jointly and individually liable for any damage / injury caused by such property.

MC   07 June 2023

Hi.  Similar situation.

Property in lonalva.  Property is under my grandmothers name.  There are three heirs to the propert(ies).  The heirs passed away, and came down to the grandchildren.  One of the properties has a dilapidated building.  Few grandchildren are sending a notice to the Municipality that they are not responsible for that building.  My question who is liable for the building?

Kishor Mehta (CEO)     14 June 2023

The owner is responsible to maintain the building in good condition and he may be held responsible for any harm caused to the residents in case of any untoward accident. It will be in his interests to issue notice to the residents to vacate the building in the event it becomes dilapidated. 

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