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Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC)

Everyone living in apartment has equal right to roof says mayor Firhad Hakim

KMC collected additional tax from people who had private ownership of roof, besides tax for flat

Subhajoy Roy | Published 11.02.24, 05:55 AM
Firhad Hakim

Firhad Hakim

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Everyone living in an apartment has an equal right to the roof, mayor Firhad Hakim asserted on Saturday after a resident from Paikpara in north Kolkata told him that a flat owner in his building had “purchased the roof” and was denying him access there.

Following the mayor’s assertion, The Telegraph spoke with several officials of the KMC and it emerged that the ownership of a roof was still a grey area in reality.


A KMC official said the civic body collected additional tax from people who had private ownership of a roof, besides the tax for the flat. This was done if the purchase deed mentioned that the person had exclusive ownership rights of the roof or a portion of a roof in an apartment block.

The deed is a government document and issued by a wing of the state government’s finance department.

A Kolkatan who bought a flat in Kasba in 2007 said his deed mentioned his exclusive roof right and the KMC charged him more than other residents of the building as tax because the southern terrace was his private property.

The KMC Building Rules, 2009, mentions otherwise. The building rules, which govern the construction and any sort of change in an existing building, mention that the roof is a common right.

“Every terrace on the topmost storey of any building shall have a common access and shall not be subdivided,” the 2009 rules say.

A senior official said there have also been several judicial pronouncements in recent times that have said that the roof in a multi-ownership apartment was a common right.

The caller from Paikpara’s Raja Manindra Road told the mayor that his purchase agreement mentioned that he had a right to the roof.

Hakim asked the man to lodge a police complaint and also promised action from his side.

Sources said that if the deed mentioned right to the roof, it cannot be denied, but there are instances where the deed mentions that the owner of a flat does not enjoy right to a roof.

After the call, the mayor instructed the chief engineer of the KMC’s building department to henceforth mention in a building permit that the roof right was common for everyone.

“Please mention a sentence in the building permit that the right to the roof was common and everyone should be able to use them,” Hakim said.

The mayor went on to add that he had also proposed to the finance department to stop registering ownership of a roof to one person in a multi-owner property.

Assigning ownership of a terrace to any one flat owner could create problems while rescuing people in the event of a fire or some other emergency, Hakim said.

He referred to the fire in Stephen Court on Park Street in 2010. Several people were found dead on the staircase leading to the roof. They were unable to make it to the roof as the entry to the roof was locked.

“What would happen in case of a fire? If the roof remains blocked, rescuing people from the building will not be possible,” Hakim said.

A builder said that while the topmost terrace in a building is the right of all owners, terraces attached to a flat in modern buildings is owned by that flat’s owner.

These terraces are built as fire refuges in very tall buildings. They are built so that people can find refuge in multiple points and do not have to rush to the terrace only.

Last updated on 11.02.24, 05:56 AM

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