What is Occupancy Certificate (OC)?

Occupancy certificate refers to a document that certifies that a building adheres to the national building codes and is suitable for occupancy. It is issued by a development authority or a local government agency, such as the municipal corporation. For home buyers, it is essential to make sure that the certificate of occupancy, along with other necessary documents and clearances, are in place. Note that civic authorities have the right to evict occupants in case any mandatory document or approval is unavailable.

Post understanding occupancy certificate meaning, it is important to become familiar with its advantages.

Benefits of Occupancy Certificate

Here are some reasons why obtaining an OC is crucial.

  • Without an OC, it won’t be possible for homeowners to secure the legal status of their property.
  • A building occupancy certificate is required when applying for water supply, sanitation or electricity connection.
  • An OC is a compulsory document that one needs to submit when availing a mortgage loan.
  • This document helps individuals to get a certified copy of the deed.
  • A valid OC is necessary during the purchase or sale of a property.

It is also crucial to remember that property tax is only applicable after the builder/ owner acquires an OC. To obtain it, they must submit certain documents.

Documents required for Occupancy Certificate

Submit the below documents to acquire an OC.

  • Project commencement certificate
  • Project completion certificate
  • No Objection Certificate (NOC) for fire and pollution
  • Building and sanction plan
  • Area calculation sheet of floor duly signed by an authorised architect
  • Photograph of the building after completion of construction
  • Copy of building’s sanctioned plan
  • Photographs of rain harvesting and solar panel
  • Tax assessment along with latest property tax receipt

How much time does it take to gain approval for an OC?

Ideally, it is a developer’s responsibility to apply for an OC within 30 days from the project completion date. Nevertheless, property owners can also apply for this document from the local government agency or development authority. If the project fulfils the eligibility criteria and there are no issues in relation to the documents submitted, one can obtain an OC within 30 days from the date of application.

In case a builder refuses to provide an OC, home buyers have the right to initiate legal action against them and file a complaint in the consumer forum. They can get a notice issued against builders, which would ask them to provide the document within a month.

Buyers must make sure to check whether the document handed over to them is original or not. Note that a copy of the occupancy certificate will not be accepted when applying for a mortgage loan or during the time of sale of their property.

How to check the status of Occupancy Certificate?

In case a project is registered under the Real Estate Regulation and Development Act, 2016, individuals can view its status on the web portal of a state’s RERA. As per provisions of the Act, it is mandatory for builders to update any new development concerning the project on the web platform. However, if the status is not updated, individuals can confirm the same from the local authorities.

Difference between Occupancy, Competition and Possession Certificates

Many buyers tend to confuse occupancy certificate with possession and completion certificates. Following is a look at establishing the differences between these three documents.

Occupancy certificate

Competition certificate

Possession certificate

 It certifies that a property has been built in accordance with the approved plan and by-laws. Builders can give possession of flats only after the issuance of this document. An OC is necessary when applying for water supply or electricity connection.

This document certifies that a project has been completed in adherence to the safety norms and building codes. Only the completion certificate is not enough to get electricity or water supply.

Issued by the builder, this document denotes a change in ownership of the property. A possession certificate doesn’t make a buyer the rightful owner of the property.

It is issued after a builder obtains a completion certificate.

It is issued to builders before they acquire an OC.

This certificate is issued after the designated authority gives a completion certificate to a builder.


Buying a new home is a culmination of many years of savings and formalities. If the property is declared unauthorised after one takes possession of his/ her flat, it can be a nightmare. Hence, it’s imperative for all buyers to make sure that they possess a valid occupancy certificate to safeguard their ownership rights.

Certificate Type

Abbreviations

Encumbrance Certificate

EC

Non-Encumbrance Certificate

Non EC

Possession Certificate

PC

How to check Occupancy Certificates (OC) online?

To check your Occupancy Certificate (OC) online in India, you generally need to visit the official website of the municipal authority of the respective city where the property is located. Most municipal corporations have online portals where you can access the property documents, which include the OC. The process may vary from one city to another but typically involves logging into the portal, entering the property ID or address, and then navigating to the required documents section. 

What is a Temporary Occupancy Certificate?

A Temporary Occupancy Certificate, as the name suggests, is a provisional certificate issued by the municipality or the local building authority in India. This certificate permits residents to occupy a property for a specific period before the final Occupancy Certificate (OC) is issued. It's generally given when the building is deemed safe for occupancy, but minor works or regulatory compliances are pending.

Frequently asked questions

Who can apply for an Occupancy Certificate?

Both builders and owners of the concerned property can apply for an OC. In case the former doesn’t do it, the latter can apply for it from a designated government agency or development authority.

What are the steps to get an Occupancy Certificate?

After the construction of a building is complete, the builder or the buyer has to submit an application form to the development authority within 30 days. Along with it, individuals are also required to submit necessary documents, such as the building’s sanctioned plan. Once the application procedure is complete, the OC will be issued within 30 days from the date of submission.

Is it possible to sell a property which does not have an OC?

No, it won’t be possible for individuals to sell a property without an OC. Homeowners need to have a valid occupancy certificate during the time of sale.

What is the full form of OC?

The full form of OC in the context of real estate is 'Occupancy Certificate'. An Occupancy Certificate is a legal document issued by a local government agency or planning authority, certifying a property's compliance with various laws and indicating it is in a suitable condition for occupancy.

Is it safe to buy property without an OC?

As a general rule, it is not considered safe to buy a property without an Occupancy Certificate in India. The OC certifies that the construction of the property is done according to the approved plan and in adherence with existing building norms and regulations. Without this certificate, the property might be considered illegal and could face potential penalties, including demolition. Moreover, it could be challenging to get utility connections or apply for a home loan for a property without an OC.

Who issues the Occupancy Certificate?

The Occupancy Certificate is issued by the local municipal authorities or the planning and development authority in a city or region. Depending on where the property is located in India, this could be the municipal corporation, town planning department, city development authority, among others. The authority inspects the property to ensure that it has been built in compliance with the approved plans and relevant building laws before issuing the OC.

Can I buy the property in case the builder does not have the Occupancy Certificate?

Generally, it's not advisable to purchase a property if the builder does not possess an Occupancy Certificate. This is because without an OC, it reflects that the construction has not been approved by the local municipal authority, which can lead to legal complications. These may range from problems in accessing basic utilities to regulatory penalties, and even demolition orders in extreme cases. However, if a buyer chooses to proceed under such circumstances, it's recommended they seek expert legal advice to understand potential risks and how they can be mitigated.

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