Landlady refuses to allow MHADA to inspect home that hasn't been repaired for decades

Nov 10, 2017, 17:00 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

An unoccupied 3,000-square foot-home on the second floor of a century-old building has been giving Maharashtra Housing Area and Development Authority (MHADA) officials sleepless nights for the last nine years. The sprawling, vacant flat in Mahaynoos Casbah, opposite Girgaon Chowpatty, has been locked for decades and not been repaired, despite residents urging the landlady to do so.

The century-old Mahaynoos Casbah building, near Girgaon Chowpatty; the 3,000-square-foot home on the second floor of the building, which has been unoccupied since 1992. Pics/ Shadab Khan

Since 2008, tenant Urvi Gupta, who lives on the third floor of the mansion, has been issuing complaints with the MHADA, asking authorities to investigate why the house on the second floor, owned by landlady Khorshed Irani, hasn't gone in for repairs, even as external work was carried out for the rest of the building. 

As the property is a cessed structure -- buildings where MHADA collects cess on rent from tenants for maintenance work -- the development authority is responsible for carrying out repairs. However, MHADA says its hands are tied because Irani won't allow them to do an audit of the home.  

According to Gupta, a transport consultant by profession, whose family has been living in Mahaynoos Casbah for over 55 years, the said flat has been unoccupied since 1992. "The second floor has no occupants since Irani took over as landlady in 1992. MHADA carried out external repairs in 2013 and 2015, but there were no repairs done internally. As residents maintain their respective homes, there is enough reason to believe that the vacant home is in bad condition," she said. 

The 3,000 square-feet home on the second floor of the building has been unoccupied since 1992

Further, Gupta also needs to carry out repairs on the flooring of her home. "However, unless the problem is gauged from the second floor home, she cannot go ahead, as it could damage the structure," said a MHADA official. "As a law-abiding citizen, it's my statutory duty to draw the attention of the law enforcing agencies to the blatant abuse of law taking place in this building," she added.

MHADA, which has been bombarded with several complaints from Gupta, has also issued several inspection notices to the landlady. Back in 2008, when Gupta had first complained about the flat, MHADA had carried out an inspection and also issued work orders for structural repairs. However, the orders weren't followed. Repeated notices since then have gone unheard.

MHADA sources said that the landlady had claimed that the property was under legal dispute. But, MHADA's letter in November 2016 states that the legal case had been closed. Officials have now written to Gamdevi police station to intervene, so that they can inspect the locked house once again.

The century-old Mahaynoos Casbah building, near Girgaon Chowpatty. Pics/ Shadab Khan

Nitin Killawala, a structural engineer, said, "If a home isn't repaired for over 20 years, chances are that it would weaken the rest of the building, especially flats below and above it."

D Mahajan, executive Engineer from D ward, MHADA, said, "We have been following the case for months. The landlady has been very uncooperative. We have now asked for police protection to enter the house. Once we get the required assistance, we will ensure that the inspection is done."

Meanwhile, Irani, claimed that none of the tenants had problems with the building. "MHADA has already carried out repair work in 2015, and the matter is closed," she said.

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