The door is being slammed on the practice of forming cooperative societies and registering flats under a common name to avoid paying the requisite registration tax for each unit.
The cash-strapped state government — aware that many owners of flats in buildings with multiple units are flouting provisions of the West Bengal Registration (Amendment) Act, 1995 — has issued a circular to the relevant departments, including the state cooperation department. The fresh order makes it mandatory for every flat-owner in the twin cities of Howrah and Calcutta to get their property registered after paying stamp duty individually.
“It was specifically mentioned in the West Bengal Registration (Amendment) Act that flat-owners of any cooperative or group housing society would have to get their registration done separately, irrespective of the other conditions,” said finance department special secretary Bikash Majumdar.
“After coming to know that many of them (flat-owners) are continuing to flout the rules, we have decided to issue a fresh circular,” he added.
A Bill to implement the change in rules will be placed in the Assembly during the winter session for its approval, officials told Metro.
The government decision, one of the many bitter pills (including the Ordinance-decreed hike in court fees and the rise in licence and other car fees) the public is being made to swallow — is likely to push up property prices on both sides of the Hooghly.
A decision has also been taken to levy a fee of two per cent on the cost of land or building as per the market value prevailing at that place and time. This, say officials, will go into the coffers of the Calcutta Improvement Trust and the Howrah Improvement Trust.
Buyers of flats in both Calcutta and Howrah now pay eight per cent of the value of the property as stamp duty and registration cost, two per cent of which goes to the relevant Trust. But with most buyers and sellers undervaluing their property, the government will end up getting much less than its due, officials said.
The finance department is learnt to have already issued a circular to all registration offices and the cooperation department. Finance minister Asim Dasgupta has urged cooperation minister Naren De to ensure that officials of his department force flat-owners to get their “property registered severally”.
Those who have already taken possession of flats after getting them registered in the name of a cooperative society will have to get the separate registrations done by March 2003, say officials, failing which they will have to face penal action. Notices will be sent to all major builders and promoters, the officials added.