Occupancy Certificates in Buildings – The Legalities

In today’s era, the first and foremost thing on the mind of every home buyer, particularly in Mumbai, is whether a building has an Occupancy Certificate, or ‘OC’ in its more popular abbreviated form. If the occupancy certificate is not present and an individual still goes on to buy the property, the resale of the house will not be possible.

What is an Occupancy Certificate?

An occupancy certificate is a document that is issued by a local government agency or planning authority, upon the completion of construction of a new project. An Occupancy Certificate is a legal document given by the Municipal Authority certifying the building as fit for human habitation. It is illegal to move into a building without an Occupancy Certificate and the structure faces a risk of demolition if it violates building norms. The local municipal corporation is supposed to issue the Occupancy Certificate. In case of Mumbai, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation(BMC) may issue the Occupancy Certificate.

Who and How can I get an Occupancy Certificate?

In Mumbai, the developer of the property can obtain the Occupancy certificate. Ideally, a developer must apply for an OC, within 30 days of the completion of the project. Also, a property owner, having obtained the plan sanction can apply for the occupancy certificate. In case of Mumbai, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation can issue an Occupancy Certificate.

Documents required to Obtain an Occupancy Certificate.

Given below are certain documents that are required to be submitted as a part of the application:

  • Project commencement certificate.
  • Project completion certificate.
  • NOCs for fire and pollution.
  • Latest property tax receipt.
  • Copy of the building’s sanctioned plan.
  • Photos of the building, solar panels, and rainwater harvesting.

Legalities of the Occupancy Certificate.

The guidelines for granting Occupancy Certificate are laid down in the Development Control Regulations of Greater Mumbai, 1991, and the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai Act, 1888. As per DC Regulation 6, an Occupancy Certificate can be issued to a building by the Municipal Commissioner if the latter is satisfied that the structure is built in accordance with law. This means that the building complies with FSI (Floor Space Index or Floor Area Ratio) norms, fire safety guidelines, open and recreational spaces and other related building parameters. As per DC Regulation 6, the Municipal Commissioner or his authorized officer has to conduct a detailed inspection of the building and verify compliance with law prior to issuing OC.

           As per Section 353A of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888 Act, 1888 if a building does not have OC, it cannot be occupied. This section states as under:

Section 353A (2): No person shall occupy or permit to be occupied any such building, or use or permit to be used the building or part thereof affected by any such work, until–

(a) the permission referred to in provision (b) to sub-section (i) has been received, or

(b) the Commissioner has failed for twenty-one days after receipt of the notice of completion to intimate as aforesaid his refusal of the said permission.”

           Thus, as per Section 353A, no person can reside in a building without an Occupancy Certificate. Any violation of these provisions is punishable with a 50% penalty along with Water supply and Sewage Board bills. 

In Mumbai, the OC is issued under the Development Control and Promotion Regulations for Greater Mumbai, 2023 which were formulated under Section 31 of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966 (Mah. Act No. XXXVII of 1966). The present DCP Regulations came into force on 13th November 2018.

ANNEXURE 20 of (Regulation 11(7)) provides a Form for Occupancy certificate which is issued by the Municipal Commissioner. Regulation 11(7) states that:

(7) Occupancy certificate: On receipt of the acceptance of the completion certificate in the form given in Annexure 19, the owner, through his licensed surveyor or his architect shall submit to the Commissioner a development completion certificate in the form given in Annexure 16 with three copies of the completion plan, one of which shall be cloth mounted for the record. The Commissioner may inspect the work and after satisfying himself that there is no deviation from the sanctioned plans, issue an occupancy certificate in the form given in Annexure 20 or refuse to sanction the occupancy certificate within 21 days from the date of receipt of the said completion certificate, falling which the work shall be deemed to have been approved for occupation, provided the construction conforms to the sanctioned plans. One set of plans, certified by the Commissioner as the completed plans, shall be returned to the owner along with the occupancy certificate. Where the occupancy certificate is refused, or rejected, the reasons for refusal or rejection shall be communicated to the owner in writing.

Real Sample of OC issued in Mumbai.

Aditya Pratap is a lawyer and founder of Aditya Pratap Law Offices. He practices in the realm of real estate, corporate, and criminal law. His website is adityapratap.in and his media interviews can be accessed at http://www.youtube.com/@AdityaPratap/featured . Views expressed are personal.

This article is assisted by Akarsh Agarwal, a 3rd year Law student pursuing BBALLB at Babu Banarasi Das University, Lucknow.