Home buying is a watershed moment in lives of middle-class setup. It was same for Arun, who recently shifted to his own home in Mumbai. He was super excited to become a proud owner of a 2BHK flat in Mumbai. But Arun and his wife were completely unaware of the problems awaiting them. Denial of civic amenities came as a huge shock for them. The problem arose due to non-availability of occupancy certificate (OC), which their developer didn’t bother to give them. They just took possession letter and started imagining a happy and comfortable life in their new home.

Arun and his wife are not the only homebuyers facing such issues after shifting into a new apartment. Many homebuyers, particularly first-timers are unaware of the documentations required during the purchase of property and when taking ownership. Excessive delays by the builders in completing the project is another reason, apartment owners ignore important documents when they take over an apartment. They just wish to get the possession as soon as possible and move into their new home.

Occupancy certificate is one of the crucial certificates, which every homebuyer must ask for when taking possession of a new flat. Usually, people get confused between possession letter and occupancy certificate and consider them same. Here is the importance of these two documents:

Possession Letter

The developer issues a possession letter in favor of the buyer mentioning prospective completion date of the house. You cannot be considered a legal owner of a property in India by just showing possession letter; you need to obtain OC to get all legal rights on your unit as well as on the amenities provided in the residential complex.

Further, the letter is also required when applying for a home loan. Banks and financial institutions providing home loan check the possession letter before accepting the loan application for a resale flat.

Conditional Possession

Sometimes buyers have to take possession of the building even when they are not satisfied. It can be faulty construction, use of different material than mentioned in the documents, pending repairs or delay in handing over completion certificate, which make the homebuyers unhappy. But in such a situation you can accept conditional possession and can write the same on builder’s copy. You can mention the condition not met by the builder due to which you are taking conditional possession. With this, you always have right to ask the builder to meet the condition else you can move the courts.

Occupancy Certificate

Occupancy certificate, which is also known as completion certificate or the pass certificate, is the proof of building’s completion as per the approved plan. Everyone buying residential projects in India must be aware of this document and ask the builder for it when moving into the new home. Builders need to collect the certificate from local town planning authority when the construction has been completed successfully and the residential complex is in suitable condition to live. Generally, builders fail to get OC when they haven’t met all the construction guidelines mentioned in the approval letter.

As a homebuyer you may an OC certificate to apply for a home loan for a resale property, to re-sell your flat and to take utility connections. To ensure that you don’t face problems like Arun, it is imperative to ask for occupancy certificate. Even if the building already has all the connections, you must obtain the certificate, as the municipal authority can disconnect it anytime, if it sees any discrepancies in the construction process.

Possession Letter without Occupancy Certificate

If a builder tries to give you ownership of the apartment without valid occupancy certificate, you have legal right to refuse to take the possession. You can also approach consumer forum or file an RTI inquiring whether the builder has applied for completion certificate or not.


As an informative buyer, you should not act in haste. While taking handover of the property, make sure the builder provides you with all the documents. You have legal right to get all the property related documents. So don’t listen to any excuse given by the builder and firmly ask for possession letter, occupancy certificate, and other documents.