CEILING ON HOUSING PROPERTY LAW

Arrangement of Sections

1. Short title.

PART I

Regulation of Ownership of Houses

2. Permitted number of houses.

2A. Applications by bodies of persons for the determination of permitted number of houses.

3. Determination of number of houses in certain cases.

4. Persons who construct house for sale not deemed to own such houses.

5. Reduction of number of houses.

6. Amalgamation of houses.

7. Houses on leased lands.

8. Declaration by owners of houses in excess of the permitted number of houses and vesting of such houses if no declaration or correct declaration is made.

9. Tenants may apply to purchase surplus houses.

10. Houses in excess of the permitted number of houses may be disposed of within twelve months.

11. Vesting of houses in excess of the permitted number of houses.

12. Vested houses.

12A. Power of Commissioner to transfer certain houses to the tenants of such houses.

13. Applications by tenants for purchase of certain houses.

13A. Applications to purchase houses of persons who have left Sri Lanka.

14. Sale of certain houses to the Commissioner by owners.

15. Date of vesting and title to houses vested.

15A. Title to houses purchased directly from owners.

16. Vesting of appurtenant and adjoining lands.

17. Applications to purchase houses.

17A. Divesting the ownership of houses vested in the Commissioner.

17B. Register of vested houses.

17C. Restriction on transfer of houses purchased from the Commissioner.

17D. Certain sections of the National Housing Act to apply to mortgages of houses purchased from the Commissioner.

17E. Commissioner to recover cost of maintaining services.

17F. Discontinuance of amenities provided to vested houses.

18. Taking possession of a house vested in the Commissioner.

19. Prevention of or obstruction to taking possession of house for and on behalf of the Commissioner.

20. Notice to persons entitled to make claims to the price payable in respect of any vested house.

21. Provisions to be complied with by the Commissioner on receipt of claims.

22. Reference to Board of Valuation for award as to price payable.

23. Determination of price payable.

24. Provision for cases where the amount is not accepted.

25. Deduction from the amount payable.

26. Interest on amount payable.

27. Date of commencement of amount payable.

28. Manner and mode of payment.

28A. Provisions of the Prevention of Frauds Ordinance not to apply to instruments executed by or in favour of the Commissioner.

29. Constitution of the Board of Review.

30. Meetings of the Board.

31. Proceedings before Board.

32. Power to summon witnesses.

33. Persons giving evidence bound to state the truth.

34. Determination of the Board.

35. Board may regulate procedure at meetings.

36. Commissioner, tenants and claimants to be given opportunity of being heard.

37. Provisions in regard to evidence.

38. Award by a Board of Valuation on reference.

39. Appeals against decisions of Commissioner.

39A. Constitution of Boards of Valuation.

PART II

Regulation of Construction of Houses

40. Restriction of floor area of houses.

41. Repealed.

42. Repealed.

43. Repealed.

PART III

General

44. Regulations.

45. Offences.

45A. Who may act for minors and persons of unsound mind.

46. This Law to prevail over other written law.

46A. Beneficiary deemed owner of a house held in trust.

47. Interpretation.

SCHEDULE

1 of 1973,

34 of 1974,

18 of 1976,

9 of 1977,

56 of 1980,

4 of 1988,

80 of 1988.

A LAW to regulate the ownership, size and cost of construction of houses and to provide for matters incidental thereto or connected therewith.

[Date of Commencement: 13th January, 1973]

1. Short title.

This Law may be cited as the Ceiling on Housing Property Law.

PART I

Regulation of Ownership of Houses

2. Permitted number of houses.

(1) The maximum number of houses which may be owned by an individual who is a member of a family shall be such number of houses which together with the number of houses owned by the other members of that family is equivalent to the number of dependent children, if any, in that family, increased by two.

(2) The maximum number of houses which may be owned by an individual who is not a member of a family shall be two.

(3) The maximum number of houses which may be owned by anybody of persons, corporate or unincorporate, shall be such number of houses as is from time to time determined by the Commissioner to be necessary for the purpose of providing residence to the employees and functionaries of such body or of carrying out the objects (other than any object for the letting of houses on rent) of such body:

[S 2(3) am by s 2(1) of Law 34 of 1974.]

Provided, however, that—

(a) the preceding provisions relating to the maximum number of houses that may be owned, shall not apply to a local authority, a Government Department or a public corporation;

[S 2(3) proviso para (a) am by s 2(2)(a) of Law 34 of 1974.]

(b) a house not exceeding five hundred square feet in floor area situated in an estate owned by a public company and occupied by an employee thereof shall not be taken into account in determining for the purposes of this Law the number of houses owned by such public company; and

[S 2(3) proviso para (b) am by s 2(2)(b) of Law 34 of 1974.]

(c) a house owned by a body of persons which is let by such body to a person other than an employee or functionary of such body shall not be taken into account in determining the number of houses necessary for the purpose of providing residence to the employees and functionaries of such body.

[S 2(3) proviso para (c) ins by s 2(2)(c) of Law 34 of 1974.]

(4) The maximum number of houses which may be owned by any person according to the preceding provisions of this section is hereinafter referred to as the "permitted number of houses”.

(5) An individual shall for the purposes of this Law be deemed to be a member of a family if such individual has a spouse or a dependent child or is a dependent child of any individual.

2A. Applications by bodies of persons for the determination of permitted number of houses.

(1) Every body of persons which owns houses shall apply to the Commissioner, giving such particulars as are necessary for the purpose, for the determination of the maximum number of houses which, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (3) of section 2, may be owned by such body. Such application shall be made—

(a) in the case of a body of persons owning houses on the date of commencement of this Law or becoming the owner of houses on any day after such date and before November 1, 1974, before such date as may be fixed for the purpose by the Minister by Notification published in the Gazette; and

(b) in the case of a body of persons becoming the owner of houses on or after November 1, 1974, within four weeks of so becoming the owner of houses:

Provided that it shall not be necessary for anybody of persons to make a fresh application under the preceding provisions of this subsection, if prior to the coming into operation of this section such body has applied to the Commissioner for a determination of the maximum number of houses that may be owned by such body.

(2) Where anybody of persons becomes entitled to own any house in excess of the maximum number of houses as previously determined by the Commissioner or by the Board of Review, as the case may be, such body shall apply to the Commissioner for a further determination of the maximum number of houses that may be owned by such body.

[S 2A ins by s 3 of Law 34 of 1974.]

3. Determination of number of houses in certain cases.

In determining the number of houses for the purposes of section 2—

(1) a house which belongs to a religious organisation or charitable trust or which is part of an industrial, commercial or agricultural concern shall be excluded, if, and only if, such house is in the opinion of the Commissioner used exclusively for the purposes of such religious organisation, trust or concern;

(2) a person who, on or after the date of commencement of this Law, becomes the owner of more than one-half share of any house owned in undivided shares shall be deemed to own such house;

[S 3(2) am by s 4(1) of Law 34 of 1974; s 2(1) of Law 18 of 1976.]

(3) a person who, on or after the date of commencement of this Law, becomes the owner of not more than one-half share in more than one house owned in undivided shares, shall be deemed to own the number of houses in which he owns such shares, reduced by one;

[S 3(3) am by s 2(2) of Law 18 of 1976.]

(4) a person who, prior to the commencement of this Law, owned shares in houses owned in undivided shares, shall be deemed to own such number of houses as is equivalent to the aggregate of such shares:

Provided however that, where such aggregate comprises a fraction—

(a) such fraction shall be disregarded if it does not exceed one-half,

(b) if such fraction exceeds one-half, such person shall be deemed to own such number of houses as is equivalent to the aggregate of such shares computed to the nearest whole number;

[S 3(4) subs by s 4(2) of Law 34 of 1974; am by s 2(3) of Law 18 of 1976.]

(5) a person who, on or after the date of commencement of this Law, becomes the owner of a sub-divided portion of a house shall, by virtue of his ownership of such sub-divided portion, and notwithstanding anything to the contrary in section 47, be deemed to own a house.

[S 3(5) ins by s 4(3) of Law 34 of 1974.]

4. Persons who construct house for sale not deemed to own such houses.

(1) Where any person constructs a house for the purpose of sale, he shall not be deemed for the purposes of this Law to own such house if such house is not occupied before it is sold, and it is sold within twelve months of the date on which such house was, in the opinion of the Commissioner, ready for occupation, or within such extended period, not exceeding a further period of twelve months as may be allowed by the Commissioner on application made by such person.

[S 4 subs by s 3 of Law 18 of 1976; re-numbered as s 4(1) by s 2(1) of Act 56 of 1980.]

(2) Where any person constructs a house for the purpose of sale, being a house comprised in a housing project approved by the Minister by Order published in the Gazette as being essential to the implementation of the housing development policy of the Government, such person shall be deemed for the purposes of this Law, not to own such house if—

(a) such house is not occupied by such person before it is sold; and

(b) such house is sold within twenty years of the date on which it was, in the opinion of the Commissioner, ready for occupation.

[S 4(2) ins by s 2(2) of Act 56 of 1980.]

5. Reduction of number of houses.

Where any person who owned a number of houses on November 9, 1971, has, after such date and before the date of commencement of this Law, reduced the number of houses owned by him otherwise than by outright sale or gift, such person shall be deemed to own the number of houses he owned on November 9, 1971, unless he satisfies the Commissioner that he had taken steps to so reduce the number of houses prior to November 9, 1971, or had reduced such number for the purpose of providing accommodation to the members of his family.

6. Amalgamation of houses.

Where any person who owns the permitted number of houses applies to the Commissioner for the amalgamation of two or more houses, the Commissioner may, with the concurrence of the relevant authority, grant permission so to do if the Commissioner is satisfied, that such amalgamation is justified having regard to the requirements of housing accommodation of the family of such person, and if any of such houses is not let to a tenant.

7. Houses on leased lands.

A person shall, for the purposes of this Law, be deemed to be the owner of a house notwithstanding that such house was constructed by him on land leased to him by the Government or by any other person.

8. Declaration by owners of houses in excess of the permitted number of houses and vesting of such houses if no declaration or correct declaration is made.

(1) Every individual who is not a member of a family and who owns houses in excess of the permitted number of houses on the date of commencement of this Law shall, within twelve weeks of such date, and every body of persons owning houses in excess of the permitted number of houses on such date shall, within six weeks of the date on which the determination under this Law by the Commissioner, or as the case may be, by the Board of Review, of the maximum number of houses that may be owned by such body was communicated to such body, send by registered post to the Commissioner a declaration—

(a) specifying the number of houses owned by such individual or body including houses owned in undivided shares;

(b) specifying the houses the ownership of which such individual or body proposes to retain; and

(c) giving such particulars relating to the houses referred to in paragraph (a) as are set out in the Schedule hereto. Such individual or body shall simultaneously intimate in writing to the tenant, if any, of each house the ownership of which such individual or body does not propose to retain that the ownership of such house is not proposed to be retained.

(2) Where houses in excess of the permitted number of houses are owned on the dale of commencement of this Law by the members of a family, the male spouse, or where such male spouse is not living or is not capable in law so to do, the female spouse, shall within twelve weeks of such date, send by registered post to the Commissioner a declaration—

(a) specifying the number of houses owned by each member of such family including houses owned in undivided shares;

(b) specifying the houses the ownership of which the members of such family propose to retain; and

(c) giving such particulars relating to the houses referred to in paragraph (a) as are set out in the Schedule hereto. Such spouse shall simultaneously intimate in writing to the tenant, if any, of each house owned by each member of such family the ownership of which is not proposed to be retained that the ownership of such house is not proposed to be retained.

(3) Where the person sending the declaration under subsection (2) is not the owner of any house the ownership of which is not proposed to be retained, the declaration shall be accompanied by a statement of consent from the owner of such house. Where such owner does not give such consent, the Commissioner shall, after due inquiry, determine the houses the ownership of which shall be retained by the members of the family.

(3A) Where the Commissioner has reason to believe that houses in excess of the permitted number of houses were owned by any person who has not made a declaration as required by subsection (1) or subsection (2), the Commissioner shall by a notice served on such person require such person to furnish the requisite declaration together with any other particulars in such manner as may be specified by the Commissioner within a period of six weeks from the date of service of such notice. A person who fails to furnish such declaration and such other particulars within such period shall be guilty of an offence under this Law, and shall, on conviction after trial before a Magistrate, be liable to a fine not exceeding one thousand rupees and to a further fine of one hundred rupees for every day on which such offence is continued after conviction.

[S 8(3A) ins by s 4(1) of Law 18 of 1976.]

(4) Any person who has, without reasonable cause, failed to send the declaration within the period referred to in subsection (1) or subsection (2), as the case may be, or has made any incorrect declaration in regard to the number of houses owned by him or by his family, as the case may be, shall be guilty of an offence under this Law, and any such house owned by such person or by any member of the family of such person as may be specified by the Commissioner by Notification published in the Gazette shall vest in the Commissioner with effect from such date as may be specified therein.

(5) Any house the ownership of which is not proposed to be retained in terms of any declaration made under this section, and in the case of a determination made by the Commissioner under subsection (3), any house the ownership of which is not retained as a result of such determination, is hereinafter referred to as a "surplus house”.

(6) Where the ownership of any surplus house has been transferred by way of sale, gift, lease or other alienation, without the owner thereof having intimated in writing to the tenant thereof, as required by subsection (1) or subsection (2), that the ownership of such house is not proposed to be retained by him, and such tenant makes an application to the Commissioner to purchase such house the Commissioner may, with the approval in writing of the Minister, by Order published in the Gazette vest such house in the Commissioner with effect from such date as may be specified in such Order.

[S 8(6) ins by s 4(2) of Law 18 of 1976.]

(7) The Commissioner may, where he deems it necessary, by a notice served on any person who has made a declaration under subsection (1) or subsection (2), require such person to furnish any further particulars in such manner as may be specified by the Commissioner within a period of six weeks from the date of service of such notice. Any person who fails to furnish such particulars within such period shall be guilty of an offence under this Law.

[S 8(7) ins by s 4(2) of Law 18 of 1976.]

9. Tenants may apply to purchase surplus houses.

The tenant of a surplus house or any person who may succeed under section 36 of the Rent Act to the tenancy of such house may, within four months from the date of commencement of this Law, apply to the Commissioner for the purchase of such house.

110. Houses in excess of the permitted number of houses may be disposed of within twelve months.

Where, on the date of commencement of this Law, any person owns any house in excess of the permitted number of houses, such person may, if such person is an individual, within a period of twelve months from such date, and if such person is a body of persons, within a period of six months of the date on which the determination under this Law by the Commissioner or as the case may be, by the Board of Review, of the maximum number of houses that may be owned by such body was communicated to such body, or where such body applies for, and is granted an extension of time by the Commissioner, within six months from November 1, 1974, dispose of such house by way of sale, gift or otherwise, with notice to the Commissioner, unless the tenant of such house or any person who may under section 36 of the Rent Act succeed to the tenancy of such house, has made application with simultaneous notice to the owner for the purchase of such house.

[S 10 am by s 5 of Law 34 of 1974; s 2(1) of Act 80 of 1988.]

111. Vesting of houses in excess of the permitted number of houses.

(1) Any house owned by any person in excess of the permitted number of houses which has not been disposed of by way of sale, gift or otherwise, within the period within which such person may dispose of such house in accordance with the provisions of section 10 shall on the termination of such period vest in the Commissioner:

[S 11(1) am by s 6(1) of Law 34 of 1974; s 3 of Act 80 of 1988.]

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