The Assam Real Estate Appellate Tribunal (REAT) recently clarified that the assessment or payment of property tax for flats in a real estate project is not a decisive factor in determining the completion of project construction. This significant observation came in response to an appeal filed by a promoter against a penalty imposed by the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA), Assam.
Key Tribunal Decision: In the case under consideration, RERA, Assam, had fined a promoter Rs 2 lakh for failing to register a real estate project, as mandated by the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016. The Act requires promoters to register ongoing projects within three months from the commencement of the Act if a completion certificate has not been issued.
Background of the Case: Although construction for the project began before the Act’s enactment, the promoter obtained the Occupancy Certificate (OC) from the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) only on June 22, 2021. The Tribunal rejected the claim for deemed OC, emphasizing that it could only be assumed if construction was completed as per the approved plan.
Relevance of Property Tax Payment: The promoter argued that payment of property tax for all flats in 2015-2016 indicated project completion by that time. However, the Tribunal held that since the OC was not issued as required by the Act, property tax payment had no bearing on the appeal.
Tribunal’s Stand: Justice (retired) Manojit Bhuyan, chairperson of Assam REAT, and Onkar Kedia, member of Assam REAT, maintained that OC issuance aligned with the Act’s provisions. The Tribunal emphasized that the completion of construction, as defined by the Act, was essential, and property tax or assessment did not influence the decision.
Conclusion: This tribunal decision sets a precedent, highlighting that the crucial factor in determining project completion under RERA is adherence to the Act’s stipulations rather than ancillary considerations like property tax payment.