A grouse about the house?

Published: Nov 19, 2011, 06:46 IST | Hemal Ashar |

Seminar on property and Co-operative Housing Society issues clears the air

Seminar on property and Co-operative Housing Society issues clears the air 

A Co-Operative Housing Society member was describing a recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) called by her mammoth housing society in the Western suburbs of the city. The meeting began on a Sunday morning, 10 a m to be precise and till 5 pm the members had not eaten lunch, they were so busy fighting and arguing, the air ringing out with shrill disagreements. If this sounds familiar, it is. Some of the lingo and confrontation in a Society AGM could put our hurl-the-chairs-stand-on-tables-shout-down-the-speaker scenes in Parliament in the shade.

In Thrall: The audience at the Vanita Samaj Hall in Shivaji Park takes
in some words of wisdom pics/SAYED Sameer Abedi

With property arousing so much ire and emotion, experts are often needed to clear the air about the role of the managing committee and society members, and in the current climate where the big R is redevelopment, the builder-resident relationship.

Making a point: Vinod Sampat tells it like it is

One such Co-Operative Housing Society expert is Vinod Sampat. Sampat spoke at MoneyLife Foundation's recent seminar. The seminar was on property-related matters and Co-Operative Housing Societies and was held at the Vanita Samaj Hall in Shivaji Park. In a 1.5-hour long seminar, Sampat spoke about redevelopment using a slide show to illustrate his views. A packed hall listened keenly, springing up with queries in the Q & A session towards the end.  

The gloves are off: Two sides to housing society conflicts

Sampat made a number of points with reference to redevelopment telling the residents, "When a building is going for redevelopment, supposing your building is going in for redevelopment, one word of caution don't trust your managing committee/the builder blindly."  He also warned against wearing blinkers when it comes to the committee stating that. "Some managing committee members are estate agents acting for the builders."

Where there is a will: There is a way, this slide does say 

Some ways in which to exercise caution is, "To look at the track record of the builder and his financial capabilities." Sampat also warned that residents must seek clarity on expenses falling into grey areas like VAT or Service Tax. "These need to be clarified by residents," said Sampat, elaborating, "Remember, that the builder is like 'visiting faculty' it is YOU who is the resident, so in the end, if these are not clarified then all liabilities will lie with the residents. Do not be afraid to ask hard-hitting questions to the developer. A few members of the society should function as critics and ask  uncomfortable questions."

So many questions, so little time: A member from the audience
asks a question

Sampat said that, "It is important that the builders should not have taken a loan on the property he is developing. There are ample examples of builders running away leaving a project half-way. One should also obtain a Building Completion certificate and get a guarantee of at least 30 years for structural defects."

You car-ma: Parking in focus 

Sampat brought a sleuth-like slant to the seminar, saying, "It is better to video record each and every meeting with the builder." Here, Sampat demonstrated the use of a small recorder he uses and urged the wide-eyed audience that, "In a hi-tech world, one must use the latest devices."

Two Cs -- Conveyance and Committees were then addressed. Sampat said, "A majority, in fact I would go on to state that 90 per cent of Housing Societies do not have Conveyance in their favour. Conveyance is the real document through which the property comes into your name.  Do not go for Deemed Conveyance which is equal to Doomed Conveyance, opt for Normal Conveyance."

While Sampat had come down heavily on committee members earlier, saying some of them functioned as agents for builders, he did acknowledge that, "Nobody wants to be a committee member. The Society committee member usually gets a earful from his family for taking on this responsibility and he also routinely gets a earful from other society members."

A slide buttressed his take on the committee vs. members tussle in several Societies. "While managing committee members are often accused of high-handedness, let me also make a point that, other members do not have the correct attitude towards the committee. It needs to be stressed that the managing committee members are NOT paid employees of other society members," he stressed.

Moving to nominations, Sampat made a point that the nominee does not get ownership rights. Society members are advised to make a will. "Take the advice of professionals while making a will, that would be better," advised Sampat.

The last half hour was reserved for questions, which ranged from what percentage of members needed to be in favour of redevelopment to time for an Occupation Certificate. As  questions flew in thick and fast, it was evident that in a city where real estate and redevelopment raise so much heat, it is vital to have some clarity on cloudy issues  and sometimes archaic rules. It is impossible for people to know  everything about property.

Some awareness though is vital. Never mind that hoary, old cliche, here, ignorance is certainly not bliss. And yes, don't forget that video recorder.   

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