Enforcing occupancy certificate regulation will need institutional partnership

Thromde: Thimphu thromde is planning to collaborate with the revenue and customs department and insurance and financial institutions to enforce the occupancy certificate regulation.

Collaboration, officials say, is expected to be ready by the year-end.

Thromde officials said that an occupancy certificate is issued after the completion of the building construction. Officials from the development control division (DCD) inspect the building prior to the issuance of the certificate.

DCD officials said that the occupancy certificate is required mainly to check whether the owners have deviated from the approved drawing and illegal construction, among others. In case of non-compliance, building owners have to pay penalty, which also include cost of construction of the illegal part.

However, although it’s mandatory for all building owners to renew ownership certificate, most don’t renew it. The annual renewal fee is Nu 150 each that is also issued after inspection of the building, mainly to monitor illegal construction.

DCD officials said that it has been made mandatory for all building owners to produce occupancy certificate from this year when they come to pay the annual land and property taxes. However, it has not been effective still.

“But we still managed to catch a few illegal constructions after implementing the rule,” an official said. Illegal construction mostly includes construction of stores, balcony or toilets in the adjoining available space.

“Now we are going to collaborate with the agencies concerned to enforce it strictly,” he said, adding that they are looking at possibilities to make it mandatory to produce the occupancy certificates when filing the personal or business incomes taxes.

One of the challenges for the DCD is control over illegal construction, which is also attributed to non-renewal of occupancy certificate, among others. “Once it’s done, it gets even more difficult,” said an official.

Despite the issue of non-renewal of the certificates, there are also several cases where flats are occupied prior to the completion of the construction or without the occupancy certificates.

Sonam (name changed upon request) moved to a building in Changzamtog that was not properly constructed in mid-2014 after she couldn’t find a suitable flat anywhere. Since then, she has been living without water connection or proper fittings like the rest of the tenants in the same building.

“Only last month, everything got fixed and now the owner is likely to increase the rent,” she said.

On some of the building owners renting the flats before completion of the construction, officials said that there were only a few such cases that are dealt as per the regulations.

“Owners and tenants have to take the associated risks if they occupy the space without the certificate,” the official said. “This means the tenants have to live with temporary electricity and water supply.”

Some building owners said that although the renewal fee is minimal, given the low compliance rate, they don’t renew the certificates.

“There should be some mechanism in place without which the compliance rate will still be low,” said Kinley, a building owner. “Renting out flats before obtaining the occupancy certificates should be monitored strictly.”

Kinga Dema

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