The assessee rented its office premises on leave and license basis to M/s. Dow Jones Consulting India Pvt. Ltd., vide leave and license agreement dated 22.11.2008 for a period of five years. For giving the property on rent, the assessee used the services of M/s. C B Richard Ellis South Asia Pvt. Ltd. for sourcing and securing a suitable licensee for the said office premises. The assessee had paid two months license compensation and 2% of the security deposit as professional fees/brokerage. The assessee claimed that the brokerage amounting to Rs.1,11,92,127/- was deductible from the rental income of Rs.1,29,13,475/- while computing the taxable income under the head “income from house property”. HELD by the Tribunal dismissing the appeal:
(i) Section 22 is the charging section of income from house property which provides that annual value of the property shall be charged to income tax. Section 23 provides for determining of annual value and section 24 provides for deductions from income from house property. The case of the assessee is that, u/s. 23(1)(b), for the purpose of determination of annual letting value of the property, envisages that the property which has been let out, then the actual rent received or receivable is to be taken as rental income. The phrase “actual rent received” or “receivable” means net of deductions and the actual rent received in the hands of the assessee. Such a plea of the assessee cannot be accepted, because what is contemplated u/s. 23 is that the annual value of the property which is let out should be the portion of rent received or receivable by the owner from the tenant/licensee. The first and foremost condition is that it should be in the nature of rent as mutually agreed upon between the two parties for the enjoyment of rights in the property let out in lieu of rent. The deduction envisaged in the proviso to section 23(1) is that, taxes levied by any local authority shall be deducted in determining the annual letting value of the property in that previous year in which said taxes have actually been paid. Section 24 provides two kinds of deductions, firstly, 30% of the actual value and secondly the interest payable on the capital borrowed for acquiring, construction, repair, etc., subject to the conditions laid down in the provisos thereto. The word ‘rent’ connotes a return given by the tenant or occupant of the land or corporeal hereditaments to the owner for the possession and use thereof. It is a sum agreed between the tenant and the owner to be paid at fixed intervals for the usage of such property. The phrase rent received and receivable contemplates the amount received for the enjoyment of the property and certain rights in the said property by the tenant. If there is charge directly related to the rental income or for the property without which the rights in the property cannot be enjoyed by the tenant then it can be construed as part and parcel of enjoyment of the property from where rent is received then such charges can be held to be allowable from the rent received or receivable. However, the brokerage paid to the third party has nothing to do with the rental income paid by the tenant for enjoying the property to the owner. Brokerage cannot be said to be a charge that has been created in the property for enjoying the rights and at best it is only an application of income received/receivable from rent. ITAT Delhi Bench in the case of Tube Rose Estates Pvt. Ltd. Vs. ACIT (2010) [123 ITD 498], as relied upon by the AO, clearly bring out this distinction between the brokerage and other charges payable in respect of services provided.
(ii) If such a nature of expenses like brokerage, professional fee, etc., is held to be allowable, then numerous other expenses like salary or commission to an employee/agent who collects the rent can also be held to be allowable. This is not the mandate of the law. So far as the decisions relied upon by the learned counsel before us are mostly pertaining to maintenance charges paid to the society, wherein it has been held to be allowable as deduction u/s. 23 itself. There is distinction between maintenance charges and the brokerage paid because such a charge is given/paid for the very maintenance of the property so as to enjoy the property itself; whereas brokerage has nothing to do with the property or the rent which is given to a third party who has facilitated the landlord and the tenant on agreeable terms to rent the property. Therefore, these decisions will not apply in the assessee’s case. Further in the cases where payment of stamp duty has been held to be allowable will not apply also as the same is directly related in connection with the lease agreement for renting of the property. Hence, said cases and instances will not apply in the present case. Thus, in our opinion, the payment of brokerage cannot be allowed as deduction either u/s. 23 or u/s. 24.