The Co-Op guide

A book on co-operative societies and redevelopment, co-authored by advocate Vinod C Sampat and advocate Ameet V Mehta is an attempt to make Mumbaikars aware of their housing rights

Aspiring for that place called 'home' is the dream of every Mumbaikar. But, land is at a premium in one of the most expensive cities of the world. The dream, therefore, continues to elude many. Other housing concerns in the city include various redevelopment schemes, which continue to be mired in controversies. In the builder vs. tenants blame game, more often than not, it is the tenants who are at the receiving end. To address these concerns and much more, a book called 'Co-operative Societies guide on Conveyance, Redevelopment and Criminal law-A Common Man's Solution' co-authored by advocate Vinod C Sampat and advocate Ameet V Mehta, was released on September 25, Sunday at Sardar Patel Hall in Goregaon (W).

In a chapter called 'Redevelopment An Overview', the authors write, 'Redevelopment of housing society is usually fraught with acrimony and complaints of high-handedness and corruption against the managing committee. Hence, with a view to ensure transparency in societies seeking to undertake redevelopment projects, the state co-operative department has, for the first time, issued guidelines to follow under section 79(A) of the Maharashtra Co-operatives act, 1960. The guidelines were issued in 2009...According to an important feature in the guidelines a redevelopment scheme can be approved by the general body only if three-fourths of the society members are present at the meeting... The most important guideline is that the development agreement signed with a particular builder cannot be transferred to someone else. Such transfers create a lot of confusion and raise allegations of corruption.'

About registering a co-operative housing society (CHS), authors write, 'Firstly, to register a society, a chief promoter needs to be elected in a meeting of the promoters. Generally the 'flat owners' type of cooperative society the builder has first right to act as the chief promoter. The builder or the flat purchasers should first call a meeting of the promoters by issuing a notice for the agenda of the meeting. The notice given to the promoters should be given at least 14 days prior to the meeting. The chief promoter elected in such a meeting can exercise powers and carry out such functions as mentioned in the minutes of the promoters of the proposed cooperative society. Once the chief promoter is elected the promoters should decide upon the name of the proposed cooperative housing society. This should be accompanied with the signatures of at least ten promoters who have attended the meeting. After the allotment of the society's name, the registrar gives the permission to open a bank account in the name of society...'

After Landslide: BMC workers clear the debris caused by the landslide
on August 28 at Subhadra mansion in Walkeshwar. Residents complained
that a swimming pool was illegally constructed on top of a hillock,
which resulted in the landslide.

Often the public is unaware of simple terms like SRA, FSI, etcetera. The writers have, defined SRA as, 'Slum Rehabilitation Authority. SRA launched Slum Rehabilitation Scheme (SRS) in 1995. As the full form suggests, it is simply an authority formed by Government of India for rehabilitation of the people living in slums and inhuman conditions. The TDR (transfer of development rights) policy was launched in 1991 to decongest the island city. Owners whose plots were reserved for playgrounds, markets and gardens, or whose land was needed for road widening could surrender their land to the BMC and get an equivalent amount of space in the suburbs. In 1997, slum TDR was introduced, wherein the FSI in slum redevelopment schemes was increased. FSI (Floor Space Index) refers to the buildable area on a plot of land. An FSI of 1 means the area of construction should be equal to the area of the plot...The FSI for Mumbai's suburbs was 1, but the state government had subsequently increased it to 1.33...'

The authors further write, ''The consumer court has directed builders to pay compensation to flat purchasers, if they fail to complete their statutory obligations. It is the duty of the builders to: Give statements of accounts; Submit the building's completion certificate; Execute the conveyance of property, in favour of the cooperative society and Hand over the original documents of title and property, to the society.  As per the provisions of the MOF Act, the builder/promoter has no right to accept more than 20 per cent of the sale price, before executing a written agreement...'

Objection: Residents of a chawl in Khar (E) protest against demolition

Mehta and Sampat acknowledge that unauthorised activities are a common problem in Mumbai. About unauthorised activities by CHS members, the authors write, 'Unauthorised activities are a common problem, vis-a vis commercial spaces in cooperative housing societies. Such acts may be in the form of unauthorised constructions and encroachments into the premises in front of the shops (the market value of which maybe in lakhs of rupees), by the shopkeepers. The society's office bearers may allot car parking/scooter parking facility to members. In front of one's shop, conditional to civic clearance. It is important to remember that the society does not lose its right on the immovable property that may be used illegally, by the shopkeeper...'

Providing Solutions
The writers define conveyance as, 'Transfer of title to property from one person to another or the document by which a property transfer is affected.' The authors have also dealt with various problems and queries, which are often raised by tenants, in a question answer format. For example--

Q: What is the meaning of deemed Conveyance?
The Promoter (Builder/Developer) is legally required to convey the land and the building within 4 months of the formation to the society or any legal body of the flat purchasers. However, it has been the experience that many promoters have not conveyed the land and building to the legal bodies. Therefore, government has amended the Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act, 1963 (MOFA) and provided for the deemed conveyance in favour of the legal bodies...

Q: Can action be taken against the developer for not executing the Conveyance under the consumer to Protection Laws?
As per the provisions of Consumer Protection Act, in our opinion action can be taken against the developer if the Conveyance is not executed by the developer.

Q: What should be the approach of the Member and of the Society with regards to the additions and alterations being proposed to be carried out by the Member of the Society?
The Member when he proposes to carry out additions and alterations in the Flat should first submit a written proposal to the Society. Member should ensure that he does not carry out structural changes in the Flat...

Q: What are the precautions that have to be taken if the builder is not forming a Co-operative Society?
First and foremost the builder should be requested to form a Co-operative Society in writing. There after whenever a delegation of the residents go to meet the builder, draft minutes should be sent to the builders confirming the events that have transpired between the Builder and the Flat purchasers. A Letter should be written to the Builder instructing him that the expenses for the building day-to-day maintenance should be handed over to the Ad Hoc Committee...

Q: There is internal leakage in a Flat No: 501. The Society has received a number of complaints from the Member who resides in Flat No. 401. the Member of our Society who resides above (Flat no: 501) does not allow Society employees to enter the Flat. Please inform us what we should do?
Members residing in Co-operative Society are supposed to co-operate with one another. However, when it amounts to inconvenience some Members do not appreciate the spirit of co-operation. In the given case if the Member does not allow the Society workmen to inspect the premises and carry out the essential repairs then the Society should issue a legal notice to the Member. The Society should also intimate to the local police station...

Criminal Law
Q: What is an FIR?
FIR stands for First Information Report. In the first piece of information provided by the informant of complainant to the police about any cognizable offence. In effect it allows the police officer of particular police station to go ahead with the legal proceedings against the said offence. The FIR needs to be recorded in writing and read over to the informant or complainant and signed by him. It is compulsory to provide a copy of the FIR to informant or complainant at no cost

Q: If a Builder has not formed a co-operative society can action be initiated against the Builder under the Consumer Protection Act?
Yes, Builder would be liable for action under the Consumer Protection Act, for not forming a Co-operative Society as he has collected money for the same

Rent Act
Q: In what way a landlord can evict or at times harass tenants?
There are various grounds available under the old Rent Act as well as under the New Rent Act... for example, the Tenant cannot give his premises on Leave and License basis or Sub-letting basis or even a paying guest unless he proves that paying guest or conductor is for a temporary purpose and there is no interest passing, then only he attains consent. So, this is one of the solid grounds available to the landlord. At the same time, landlord generally can harass by not accepting the rent from the tenant whereby landlord refuses to take rent from the Tenant. With the result the rent gets accumulated and in case the tenant fails to pay, within 90 days, then there is no remedy available and the tenant has to vacate...

Guidelines for builders and tenants
1. Offer letter to the society
2. Terms and conditions with the society
3. Agreement with the society
4. Sanction from MCGM in favour of the society
5. Loading of TDR in the society's name
6. Obtaining the IOD
7. Shifting of the members
8. Demolition of the building
9. Obtaining the CC
10. Construction of the new building
11. Obtaining the OC
12. Shifting the old members

Excerpts from
Co-operative Societies guide on
Conveyance, Redevelopment and
Criminal law �A Common Man's
Call Advocate Ameet V Mehta on
9821283232 for a copy of the book

Book Launch
'Co-operative Societies guide on Conveyance, Redevelopment and Criminal law �A Common Man's Solution' co-authored by advocate Vinod C Sampat and advocate Ameet V Mehta, was released on September 25, Sunday at Sardar Patel Hall in Goregaon (W).

Members from different political parties were present during the ceremony.

On the occasion Mehta said, "Various issues on redevelopment and housing can easily be settled out of court.

This book is a guide to make people aware of their rights so that one can easily arrive at a solution."

Talking about the real-estate scenario of Mumbai, Sampat said, "The government should make an attempt to reclaim land from the sea and make land available for people."

The book is available free of cost and will soon be available in Gujarati, Marathi and Hindi.

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