Reviewed by Prabhakar Shetty, practising advocate at the Karnataka High Court
Buying property in Bengaluru can be confusing and risky – there are multiple authorities for land use approvals, obscure rules, and the finer details are often missed out. In this article, we explain what buyers and investors should know about different land types and the authorities regulating each.
Following are some basic questions you need to ask before buying property.
Which authority does your property fall under?
Bengaluru’s Local Planning Area is divided among the BBMP, BDA (Bangalore Development Authority), and the BMRDA (Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority).
- The constantly-expanding inner core of the city falls under the BBMP.
- BDA acquires land notified by the Urban Development Department, and even forms Layouts where required. Once BDA completes development, the area is handed over to BBMP for tax collection and maintenance.
- Outer areas, that don’t come under the jurisdiction of either BBMP or BDA, come under the purview of BMRDA.
Who sanctions building/layout plans?
BBMP sanctions the plans of apartments, individual houses and commercial buildings. For any layout, irrespective of whether the land is under the jurisidction of BBMP or BDA, the plan-sanctioning authority is BDA.
In areas under the BMRDA, its five Local Planning Authorities (LPAs, designated as per their locations at Nelamangala, Kanakapura, Magadi, Anekal and Hoskote), along with the Ramanagara–Channapatna Urban Development Authority (RCUDA), Bangalore International Airport Area Planning Authority (BIAAPA) and Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Area Planning Authority (BMICAPA), are the plan-sanctioning authorities. You need to get plan sanction from the one that has jurisdiction over your land.
- BIAAPA: This is a plan-sanctioning authority for land use only around the airport. It deals with the ‘island’ containing the airport as well as parts of Bengaluru North, Devanahalli and Doddaballapur. In sanctioning any land development plan, its primary focus is on the airport’s operation and the flight paths of aircrafts.
- BMICAPA: Like BIAAPA, BMICAPA is the plan-sanctioning authority exclusively for areas along the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor. In Bengaluru, this corridor includes parts of Kengeri, Uttarahalli and Yeshwanthpur.
Layout/apartment plans that are sanctioned by the panchayat are not valid for properties developed in the jurisdiction of BBMP, BDA or BMRDA. These plans are valid only if the land in question lies beyond BMRDA limits; such properties come under the state government’s Directorate of Town and Country Planning (DTCP).
Is the land classified as ‘for residential use’?
When you are considering buying a home or a flat, always check that the land it is standing on has been classified as ‘for residential use’. This simple check can save a lot of hassle later.
The purpose for each which each parcel of land can be used – residential, commercial, etc – is specified in the Zoning and Land Use Rules. These rules are laid out in BDA’s Master Plans for the entire Bangalore Urban district. The Revised Master Plan (RMP), 2015, is in force currently, and will be till 2031. For properties in BMRDA limits, there’s a separate Master Plan that details land use and zoning rules. The rules are similar in both the Master Plans.
The main classifications of land use are:
- Residential (R)
- Commercial (C)
- Industrial (I)
- Public & Semi-public (P&SP)
- Parks & Open Spaces (P)
- Traffic and Transportation (T&T)
- Public Utilities (PU)
- Unclassified (UC)
- Agriculture Land (AG)
A residential property is legally compliant only if it’s built in a residential or mixed residential zone. But residential multi-storied apartments are allowed in commercial zones since these are treated as commercial activity in the hands of the developer.
If the property you are planning to buy is part of a project that already has a sanctioned plan from the BDA or the BMRDA, or a sanctioned building plan from the BBMP, the plan is presumed to be compliant with the land-use rules.
What is a Revenue site?
Revenue site is a site that has agricultural roots and has not been converted into residential/commercial property. The term became popular as the owners of such properties used to pay agricultural revenue tax earlier.
The title for agricultural land is extinguished if BDA acquires the land and forms a layout. Pockets of land within BDA/BBMP/BMRDA jurisdiction that are not acquired and not converted remain as agricultural land.
Based on the seal of the panchayat, owners of such sites will get a House List number and Khata number issued by the old village panchayat office, but only if the site is within prescribed distance of the panchayat office. (Sites without conversion and also beyond the prescribed distance from the panchayat office, are illegal even if the panchayat collects house tax and assigns a Khata number to it. Non-agricultural activities in such sites can be removed, and the government can even confiscate the land.)
Revenue sites have problems of resale, bank loan availability and marketability. The sub-registrar will sometimes freeze the registration of such sites, and sometimes the government will allow registration. As per revenue rules of Karnataka, revenue land without conversion can be measured only in guntas; and only an agriculturist can buy land in guntas. Banks usually will not provide loans for such sites, but some risk-taking banks may provide a composite loan to build a house.
Application for conversion of revenue sites needs to be given by the original land owner. From agricultural use, the land can be converted to residential or commercial use.
How to convert agricultural land?
Conversion from original land use to desired land use is done by the Deputy Commissioner for Bangalore Urban district, and such conversion is governed by the relevant Master Plan. Before conversion, the prospective owner/buyer needs to check the purpose for which the land can be used as per the Master Plan.
The owner of agricultural land can choose not to convert it and continue to use it as agricultural land. But if they opt for conversion at all, it has to be according to the land use prescribed for that zone.
What is Gramathana property?
Gramathana represents the original place of residence within a village. Gramathana properties do not need conversion to residential use as they have been used as residences for a long time. In village maps which go back to British days, these Gramathanas can be observed as having been marked as ‘ooru’ (village) properties surrounded by survey numbers corresponding to agricultural lands. Even in BBMP areas, there are Gramathanas for which you can directly obtain a Khata, provided the land is a genuine Gramathana.
Forms 9 and 10, which were tax-paid receipts issued by village accountants or other revenue officials in the early days, were previously used as proof of a property being designated a Gramathana property. But in the 1990s, these forms were issued to lands with survey numbers (agricultural lands) too, and some sellers used these forms to pass off unconverted agricultural land as Gramathanas and convinced customers to buy these.
However, even now there are genuine Gramathana properties within the city. To ensure genuineness, obtain a certificate from the Department Of Survey, Settlement & Land Records (central office at K R Circle), stating the property is a Gramathana.
[This article was originally published in the book ‘Buying, Renting and Investing in Property in Bengaluru’, and has been reviewed and updated by Advocate Prabhakar Shetty. In part 2 of this series we explain what documents you need, to buy property in Bengaluru.]