Leasehold to freehold conversion takes time and forces people to take risky shortcuts to buy or sell property
Sanjay Sharma, resident of a co-operative group housing society in North Delhi, can’t get his leasehold flat converted to f reehold because of a long- drawn legal dispute between his society and the Delhi Co-operative Housing Finance Corporation Ltd (DCHFCL) over loan embezzlement. Unless it is freehold property, Sharma cannot sell the apartment.
Disposing of the property a few years ago would not have posed a problem.“I could have done that through a registered general power of attorney/agreement to sale/ will, but transfer of leasehold property through such methods was banned after the Supreme Court judgment in the Suraj Lamp case. So If I have the need to suddenly sell my property I would to go in for a transfer deed,” Sharma adds.
Thousands of apartment owners in many co-operative group housing societies and DDA apartments don’t have either a legal title or valid power of attorney for their properties. Their troubles begin when they tur n to unscr upulous proper t y dealers and greedy revenue officials for selling their apartments and are wrongly advised to opt for a transfer of lease deed.
“Many group housing projects don’t have completion certificates because of building violations. DDA’s documentation process is also so cumbersome that even if you have proper documents it takes four to five months to get the conversion done from leasehold to freehold done, though DDA officials claim that it takes just 60 days,” says Sanjeev Kumar, president, Delhi Residents’ Front.
Kumar adds, “DDA asks for a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the co-operative society flats. This gives an opportunity to many office bearers of the society to harass the owner and ask for huge sums of money for grant of NOC. DDA also asks the owner to get the signature of original allottee validated by the society. All of this takes time.”
Asked if the substantial conversion fee was also a reason why people turned t owards other methods to sell their apartments, Asoka Sharma, resident of a co-operative group housing society, says, “I don’t think so. The total conversion cost of a 100 sq mt flat in Rohini is about 1.5 lakh - which is not too much. The new new DDA vice chairman has taken a lot of positive initiatives, however, there are still a lot of bottlenecks.”
Says a senior DDA official, “The conversion procedure has some checks to minimise risk of property fraud. What can the DDA do if the housing society is locked in a legal battle with DCHFCL or if society members want bribes for issuing NOCs? I think the revenue department should take adequate measures to stop innocent people from buying disputed properties.