Mumbai: RERA won't say no to any complaints

Aug 05, 2018, 08:10 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

Big relief to over 50,000 structures in Mumbai, as quasi-judicial body complies with Bombay HC order to include unregistered projects under the RERA Act

Mumbai: RERA won't say no to any complaints
HC intervened after Mohammed Zain Khan filed a petition seeking that it instruct MahaRERA to act against a developer not registered with RERA

Home-Buyers in the city can finally breathe a sigh of relief, as all unregistered Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (MahaRERA) projects will now come under the ambit of the Real Estate Regulation and Development Act of 2016. This means that MahaRERA cannot refuse any consumer grievance against developers/builders.

The decision comes after the quasi-judicial body made necessary modifications in its software, following a Bombay High Court order on July 31. The move is being looked upon as a major victory for thousands of flat buyers as both under-construction and completed projects will benefit under the new norms.

Khan had alleged that the developer had abandoned the Lonavla project mid-way
Khan had alleged that the developer had abandoned the Lonavla project mid-way

Earlier, MahaRERA would blankly refuse to entertain complaints against projects not registered under the RERA Act. However, in June this year, Mohammed Zain Khan moved a petition in the HC against developer, M/s Emnoy Properties India, who, in 2012, promoted a non-agricultural (N.A.) bungalow plots and bungalows scheme called Valvan Valley, spread over 200 acres at Lonavala. Khan's writ petition sought direction to MahaRERA to take action against all unregistered construction projects (residential flats/bungalows/gated communities/villas) in Maharashtra that are still being promoted without being registered. Last week, the HC instructed MahaRERA to include all projects within its ambit.

"This order will be of immense help to flat buyers/occupiers across the state of Maharashtra, who have invested their hard-earned money in under-construction/ready properties, which still await occupation certificates, conveyance etc. Previously, their pleas would simply go unheard, as there was no constitutional body to hear their grievances," said advocate Nilesh Gala of M/s Law Square, who represented Khan in the case.

The advertisements for the disputed plots in Lonavla. Mohammed Zain Khan had moved a petition against the developers
The advertisements for the disputed plots in Lonavla. Mohammed Zain Khan had moved a petition against the developers

Court intervention
In its order dated July 31, the division bench of Justice VM Deshpande and Justice RM Borde instructed MahaRERA to make "necessary modifications" in its software — in order to entertain complaints of unregistered projects — within a period of 15 days.

On completion of the process, the petitioner Khan was asked to register his complaint with MahaRERA again, as prescribed by law. "The complaint, tendered online by the petitioner and other similarly situated complainants, in respect of unregistered projects would be entertained and the same would be dealt with in accordance with the procedure that is being adopted by MahaRERA in respect of disposal of complaints in relation to registered projects (sic)," the court order read. MahaRERA immediately complied with the order.

Ramesh Prabhu, Housing expert
Ramesh Prabhu, Housing expert

Section 3 conundrum
According to advocate Gala, Section 3 of the RERA Act mandates that no developer can advertise, market or sell unless he registers the project. In fact, all developers were expected to register with MahaRERA, within three months of commencement of the Act, which came into force in May 2017. However, housing expert Ramesh Prabhu pointed out that despite the order being on paper, MahaRERA came out with an FAQ, which stated that if the buildings are already occupied by residents, even if they did not have completion certificate or occupation certificate, they did not have to register with MahaRERA. "This is contradictory to the Act as well as the RERA rules. Further, MahaRERA also tactfully did not allow their software to accept any complaints without the registration number," Prabhu said.

He added, "As per the BMC affidavit to the Supreme Court three years ago, there are 50,000 structures, which don't have a commencement certificate and OCs. This order will not only benefit all these residents in Mumbai, but also over three lakh structures across Maharashtra."

Case history
Mohammed Zain Khan had bought a N.A. plot measuring 22,000 sq feet in the said project in August 2012. However, in 2015, Khan learnt that the developer's title of land was mired in litigation and so, he asked for his money back. The developer, however, assured Khan alternative, smaller N.A. plots in another project in Lonavala called Lions Valley. But, the developer failed to keep his promise. Khan claimed that the developer had abandoned the Valvan Valley project midway and was now jointly promoting/marketing, selling the Lions Valley project in Lonavala with another developer, Rio Luxury Homes. Also, Emnoy Properties had not registered the Lions Valley project as required under MahaRERA.

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