Legal Documents to Check Before Buying Property


The exact laws governing the sale of property might be slightly different in different states, but there are a few permissions and documents a builder or promoter must have if they are selling flats. Here are the documents that you should check when buying a flat from a builder:

Title deed: This document will tell you whether the builder owns the property being sold and has the right to sell the property and the freedom to transfer ownership. Insist on seeing the original, and not a copy of the title deed. It will also tell you whether everything is legal or if there is litigation in progress regarding the property. A buyer should check the original deed and confirm that the land is in the name of developer, to ensure that no one else has right to sell it. It is advisable to get the title reviewed by a lawyer.

Intimation of disapproval (IOD): This is a set of permissions which must be obtained by a developer at various stages of construction. ‘This would involve acquiring approvals and a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from various departments such as the Storm Water and Drain Department, Sewage Departments, Forest Department, Environment Department, Traffic and Coordination Department, Chief Fire Officer, Airport Authority and Pollution Board, among others.

Commencement certificate (CC): This is a document which must be issued by the local authorities and legally allows a builder to start the actual construction work. Shveta explains that this is important as any construction without procuring a CC is illegal.

Encumbrance certificate: This can be obtained from the office of the registration authority (the sub registrar’s office) and tells you whether the property carries any legal or monetary liabilities or has any litigations pending. It can go as far back as 30 years.

Approved layout plans: The layout plans must be approved by the appropriate planning authorities. Home buyers need exercise caution as there have been cases where developers deviated from the approved layouts, by adding extra floors or reducing open areas.

Purchase agreement: You should go through this document carefully to make sure it includes everything you were promised. You can only hold a builder or promoter legally accountable for what is in the purchase agreement, not what has been verbally promised to you. The agreement should contain all major details of the construction project such as the project specification, apartments, payment terms, completion deadlines and the type and amount of penalty, should any party default. The agreement should also contain a clause to transfer the common areas to the society. This ensures the plot remains with the original owners and that the developer cannot engage in further construction on this land.

Occupancy certificate (OC): Issued by local authorities, this certificate states that the property has been constructed in compliance with the provided permissions. At this stage the developer would have completed all necessary water, sewage and electrical connections.

Vakilsearch's resident expert on starting up, compliance and accounting, he holds a Masters in Accounting and an LLB.


  1. Before buying a property we should have to check all the above mentioned documents properly. If we don’t do this, we can face some trouble. Because corruption is in every field. Somebody can give fake papers or document for money. So be careful while buying propriety.

  2. Hi Suraj,

    We are looking for some help in Property law Transaction and checklist in discharge mortgage. Please let us know, if you guys can help us. I am at overseas now and you can reach me on my mobile 0011 61 469 368 765 or email me at or email me your details and let me know the best time to reach you.

  3. I want to buy a home but since I’ve never done it before, I’ll want to check all the required documents. Looking over things like the purchase agreement and the encumbrance certificate would be helpful to ensure I’m not jumping into a home with more financial responsibility than expected. I’ll have to keep these tips in mind to ensure I don’t have any problems when I buy my first house because I want it to be an easy, quick experience.