Mumbai: New changes empowering buildings, residents en route

Jul 21, 2017, 18:45 IST | Dharmendra Jore

After problems faced by societies due to the amended cooperative Act were raised in legislature, committee submitted suggestions aimed at easing administration and keeping corruption in check

The most important suggestion made is setting up of an empowered authority for societies to resolve disputes. PIC FOR REPRESENTATION
The most important suggestion made is setting up of an empowered authority for societies to resolve disputes. PIC FOR REPRESENTATION

There's some good news and much-needed relief on the way for lakhs of registered cooperative housing societies in the state, which have been facing difficulties because of the amended cooperative Act. Some rules and regulations under the act are set to be changed exclusively for them.

Suggested by a high-powered committee, the changes aim at easing administration, encouraging residents to take up responsibility of running their respective societies and keeping an eye on corruption and harassment by regulating government officers.

The most important recommendation made is establishment of an empowered authority for societies for resolving disputes. This means that residents won't need to approach courts every time. A copy of this list of recommendations is with mid-day.

Welcome changes
One of the changes that's sure to please residents is that managing committees will no longer be authorised to allot parking space as per their whims and fancies, putting a stop to the blatant misuse of parking allotment by builders and the committees. Now, parking will only be allotted as per the development control rules (as per the approved building plan). This will ensure that all flat owners get at least one spot.

Another change is reduction in the number of members in the managing committees. As per law amended by the previous regime, any housing society with 100 or less flats/house owners should have at least 11 members. But this posed a problem because of small-sized housing societies — in the case of Mumbai, Mhada has 27 flats in each of its buildings. The change will reduce the strength to five members.

Yet another positive change is that defaulters will be taken to task under the new act. There will be a provision to terminate a fraudulent membership. Any auditor and chartered accountant, other than empanelled by the Registrar of Cooperatives, will also be allowed to audit society accounts. This will save societies time and money.

As stated in the original act, the responsibility of conducting elections has been given back to the managing committees. The amendment that was made a couple of years ago had authorised the registrar's office to do the entire process, which was time- and money-consuming. Many societies had complained that they could not hold elections for a long time because of non-availability of staff from the registrar's office.

Rising numbers
In terms of cooperative housing societies, Mumbai has the largest number (about 40,000) of registered ones. Several societies had petitioned the government that Mumbai should have an independent authority to deal with its housing societies, which are increasing every month with new buildings coming up. A registered society gets a legal sanctity to manage its finances, administration and maintenance, and also play a pivotal role in transferring ownership rights of flats and seeking conveyance deed of land on which the building stands.

Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar had last year raised the issue of the problems the societies were facing. The government had agreed to appoint a study group of legislators and officers, which gave its submission early this week.

"There is a strong possibility of this bill getting passed in the Monsoon Session. The government may invite suggestions and objections from people before or after the bill is approved," said Shelar.

Other salient features as per the submission
  • A bonafide member can nominate a person of his/her choice as an associate member to exercise his/her rights and duties in his/her absence, thus helping a member to avoid disqualification if s/he is staying abroad or in another city. The associate and provisional member will have the right to vote.
  • It's no longer compulsory for management members to undergo training. Now, the housing federation will be authorised to train people in managing societies, for which it will get a financial grant from the government.
  • A "defaulter" has been defined clearly as a member who fails to pay the dues of the society within 3 months from the date of service of bill or notice (whichever is later). This will help societies recover dues legally.

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