Mumbai: MahaRERA docks agent for switching projects

Jan 11, 2019, 09:00 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

Agent promising one project to a buyer and the builder booking an entirely different one results in hefty fine for both from watchdog

Mumbai: MahaRERA docks agent for switching projects
The buyer had booked two flats at a project in Borivli through Sai Estate Consultants. Representation pic

Real estate broking firm Sai Estate Consultants is in trouble once again. This time around, the MahaRERA chairperson has threatened to revoke their registration if they commit any violation in the future. The warning came after a senior citizen complained against the company after he did not receive a refund of Rs 15 lakh he'd invested in two flats through the broking firm.

According to real estate experts, this MahaRERA order clearly states no real estate agent will be authorised to market of any project until the developer does not feed details of the particular agent or firm on the MahaRERA portal against his registered project. The complaint which brought about this order was filed by Jayantilal Patel, 65. He stated in his plaint that Sai Estate Consultants (named as respondent 2) had published an advertisement on October 1, 2017 for various housing projects, including one by 'Origin' group which had the MahaRERA registration number P51800007441. Turns out, the registration number is of a project belonging to Vijaykamal Properties Pvt Ltd (named as respondent 1).

Patel was promised a ground-plus-45 storey tower, but when he visited the site, no construction work was going on. Pic for representation
Patel was promised a ground-plus-45 storey tower, but when he visited the site, no construction work was going on. Pic for representation

Based on the said advertisement, Patel had approached Sai Estate at their Chembur office, where he was advised to book in the project titled 'Meridian Courts Tower 2' in Borivli, which had the registration number P5180012751. Accordingly, Patel booked two flats (805 and 806) for himself and his sister, who resides abroad. He then made a payment of R15 lakh (R7.50 lakh for each flat) in favour of the developer on October 26, 2017. He received a letter of acknowledgement signed by one Bhavya Shah, director of Origin Corps. However, the document had the letterhead of one 'Aries Group'.

Raising questions
Patel stated further in his complaint that after visiting the project website and getting booklets and letters from Sai Estate Consultants, he raised lot of queries pertaining to the details related to the project, as the project with the RERA number P5180012751, was registered with Vijaykamal Properties (Pvt) Ltd as the promoter, along with Origin Realtors LLP, as the landowner/investor. He also sought clarification from Sai Estate about 'Aries Group', 'Origin Group' and 'Origin Realtors LLP' appearing in the various marketing materials, letters, e-mails and advertisements put by Sai Estate.

Patel also said the project he'd booked flats in was situated in Kandivli West and not Borivli. "We were told that it will be a ground-plus-45 storey tower, but when I visited the site, no construction work was going on. I'd invested my retirement benefits and broken my fixed deposits to pay the advance booking amount,." When Sai Estate failed to provide a satisfactory reply, Patel decided to cancel the deal in November 2017, and demanded refund of the R15 lakh he'd invested. In response, Sai Estate allegedly kept telling him they're awaiting confirmation on the cancellation from the developer.

Approaches MahaRERA
Patel then decided to approach MahaRERA in December 2017, which allegedly took up his complaint only after he hired a lawyer. The arguments in the case went on till January this year. "Advocate Avinash Pawar represented my case before MahaRERA. The authorities passed an order on January 9 in my favour. However, I will continue to be worried until I get my money back," Patel told mid-day. Pawar said, "The broking firm had advertised a project of Origin group. My client responded to the same but was shown some other project and issued receipts on the letterhead of a third company, which was a well-planned strategy to dupe him."

The arguments
In his argument before MahaRERA chairperson Gautam Chatterjee, Sai Estate's advocate Sanjay Chaturvedi, submitted that they'd followed up with the developer for the refund on several occasions, but there was no response. He further argued that as the cheque was issued in favour of Respondent 1, they should be directed to refund the amount.

Jinam Shah, who represented Vijaykamal Properties (Pvt) Ltd, argued that even though the cheque was issued in favour of the developer, the said developer has paid a certain amount to Sai Estate, and therefore, Vijaykamal should be able to refund a partial amount, while the remaining refund should be taken from Sai Estate. After hearing all sides, Chatterjee in his order directed the developer to refund within 30 days the R15 lakh paid by Patel, and also directed them to pay R1 lakh for failing to refund the money till date.

Meanwhile, Sai Estate was directed to pay a penalty of five per cent of the cost of the apartments, which amounts to Rs 3.25 lakh, within 30 days. In addition to this, Chatterjee also issued a strict warning to Sai Estate, stating that any violation by them in the future may lead to revocation of their MahaRERA registration. Reacting to the order, Chaturvedi said, "It is unfortunate that such an order has been passed against my client. We have decided to challenge this order before the MahaRERA appellate tribunal." Patel has a word of caution for the public, "I would advise people not to make any payment unless all due diligence is done. Visit the project site and verify all credentials of the proposed project with concerned agencies other than MahaRERA. Proceed only once you're satisfied."

Rs 15 lakh
Amount Patel had paid for both the flats

Expert says
Advocate Godfrey Pimenta, a RERA expert welcomed the order, “ The judgment given by MahaRERA chairman sets a good precedent for real estate agents. If a reputable firm like Sai Estate Consultants indulges in such practices, what can one say about other firms? We welcome the judgment.”

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