PUNE: Individual flat owners in the city can directly approach the Pune Municipal Corporation for occupancy certificates (OC). There are around six lakh residential properties and 75,000 non-residential properties in the city and the civic body claims many of these identified and assessed properties have not obtained OCs.
An occupancy certificate is an authorisation issued by a local governing body that a building meets the required health and safety standards and can be inhabited and is not encroached upon. Developers/builders or individuals who submit building plans have to seek this certificate from the building permission department before the property is occupied.
"Since the last few years, the civic body has started issuing individual OCs where developers/ builders had not shouldered the responsibility of seeking the certificate. In 2013-14, about 456 individual flat owners have received such OCs," said municipal commissioner Mahesh Pathak while presenting his draft civic budget for 2014-15.
Owners of flats and bungalows do not have to depend on the builder for the OC. However, if the flat or house has not been built as per the norms laid down by the PMC, the owner will have to either tell the builder to fulfill the requirements or do it himself before seeking the certificate.
"In 2014-15, the PMC aims to issue individual OCs and cover at least 50% of flat owners occupying properties without the certificate," said Pathak.
Many builders and developers sell the property without this document leaving flat and house owners in the lurch. The certificate is denied to a builder if he fails to adhere to the PMC norms or fails to provide amenities or undertakes construction not in accordance with the approved plan.
Although the certificate is withheld to penalise the builder/developer for not fulfilling the desired norms, it ultimately affects flat owners. In many cases, builders/developers disappear once the flat is sold and the owners face the music because it is difficult for them to resell or mortgage the property without the document.
In 2005, the PMC had decided to allow flat owners to approach it for completion certificates. However, the scheme was scrapped abruptly. In 2008, the PMC had announced that it would approach the state government for an amendment to the development control rules enabling the civic body to take action against builders who sell property without the completion certificate. However, there has been no progress so far.
"It is against the law to move into flats in buildings without the mandatory municipal occupation certificate," the Bombay High Court has ruled in October 2013. A division bench of Justice S C Dharmadhikari and Justice Gautam Patel sought action against 49 flat owners as well as a nursing home in two wings of a building with six wings in Sion East in Mumbai.