After three years of marriage, Prakash Mirpuri, a concept visualiser at a digital entertainment company, decided to make his wife Kamya a joint owner of his flat in Pune, last year. Mirpuri believed that it would only take a letter to the housing society to add his wife as co-owner in the share certificate. His misconception was soon dispelled. "The large amount of paperwork, in addition to the substantial cost that it would entail, has made me change my mind," says the 38-year-old. He discovered that he would need permission from various authorities and would have to pay about Rs 80,000 to complete the process.
Adding another owner to your property is a weighty decision, and not just in terms of cost. One of the biggest issues is that once the deed is made, any transaction related to the property would require the consent of the co-owner as well. So, consider carefully before taking this step.
How can I add a co-owner?
A joint owner will, by default, be the owner of half the property, but you can specifically mention the proportion of the ownership between the two individuals. Here are the two ways in which you can make another person a co-owner.
Sale deed: You can sell a portion of the property to the other person and he can use this sale deed to get himself registered as the co-owner of the property by paying the necessary charges. The stamp duty is typically in the range of 5-12.5% of the market value of the property (varies in different states), while the registration charge is about 1%.
Gift deed: You can also share the ownership by gifting it to someone. In this case, you will need to get a gift deed executed on a stamp paper and register it at the registrar's office. A gift to a relative is not taxable. However, if you gift the property to a non-relative, the value of the house is treated as income and taxed according to the income tax rules for the relevant year. The stamp duty is generally 2% of the value of the property, along with 1% registration charge.
How will it benefit me?
Co-owning a property can be beneficial for married couples because if one of the partner dies, the surviving spouse automatically becomes the sole owner of the house. So, the transfer of rights becomes easy.
Another advantage is that if the couple has taken a home loan jointly, each person can avail of the tax benefits. Under Section 24 of the Income Tax Act, both partners can claim deductions of up to Rs 1.5 lakh for the interest paid on the home loan. They can also claim tax benefits of up to Rs 1 lakh for the principal amount under Section 80C.
What if the house is mortgaged?
Banks generally don't charge any money to just add a co-borrower to the loan. However, if you want to extend this and add the person as a co-owner, the lender might be more selective about letting you do so. The bank or financial institution from which you have taken the loan will probably ask the co-owner to become a co-borrower as well and then it will ascertain his/her credit worthiness. The mortgage deed will have to be redrawn and the new owner will have to pay additional stamp duty and registration charge along with the bank's processing fee.
A senior general manager with the Bank of India explains that they consult with their legal team before agreeing to add a co-owner to the property. "If it increases the eligibility criteria of the couple and gives them an opportunity to opt for a top-up loan, we certainly consider such a case," he explains.
According to the official, the bank levies all the charges that are levied in case of a new application. "We impose all the necessary charges, including the search and valuation, legal, administrative and processing fees, on the customer," he adds.
However, a bank will not let you add a co-owner if you only want to take advantage of a new scheme floated by it. "For instance, if there is a scheme under which we are offering a waiver of certain charges, we don't include the existing customers in it as it does not mean huge business inflows for us," adds the bank executive.
If the house you are buying is still under construction, you will be able to add a co-owner only if the builder agrees. "Most developers restrict or prohibit transfers before you take possession of the house, and if they do allow, you will have to pay steep transfer charges. However, the advantage of taking this step is that if the ownership is transferred before the sale deed is drawn, you will not have to pay an additional stamp duty or registration charge," says Naushad Panjwani, executive director, Knight Frank India .
Rights and taxation
According to the Transfer of Property Act, a co-owner has a proprietary right to the entire property. So, any transaction needs to be done with the consent of all the owners, unless specifically mentioned in the agreement. The co-owner has full rights to decide whether to reside in it, give it out on rent, or even sell it.
Whenever the house is sold, the co-owners will have to pay tax on the capital gains earned by them. In the case of the second owner, the capital gains will be computed on the basis of the market value of the house as on the date that it was sold or gifted to him.