No interest; be happy with principal amount

Updated: May 26, 2019, 07:23 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

MahaRERA order leaves flat owners in a Dadar apartment complex, Island City Center, in a flux

Island City Center in Dadar (E) has been plagued with problems with its flat buyers over not fulfilling its promises. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Island City Center in Dadar (E) has been plagued with problems with its flat buyers over not fulfilling its promises. Pic/Bipin Kokate

A recent order by MahaRERA chief Gautam Chatterjee has put seven flat owners in Dadar's Island City Center on the losing side as it directs the developer to refund the money originally deposited by the flat buyers, without paying interest.

Ramesh Prabhu, Housing and MahaRERA consultant, who appeared for five out of the seven complainants, says, "My clients had booked the apartments by paying 20 per cent of the flat cost (approximately Rs 1.80 cr) in 2013-2014 via allotment letters. They allege that the developer made false assurances regarding the amenities and even made changes to the carpet area and overall layout of the project. Therefore, the aggrieved flat buyers approached MahaRERA seeking justice, but the order passed by the chief is vague and lacks clarity."

In their argument, the copy of which is with mid-day, the lawyers representing Bombay Realty stated that the developer has followed the sanctioned plans and approvals, which were disclosed at the time of registering the project with MahaRERA, when the act came into effect. Thereafter, they have not made any changes that may amount to violation of the said Act. The developer obtained the OC in March 2019, and stated that they are willing to clarify any doubts the complainants may have. They also confirmed that the draft agreement for sale is in compliance with the Act.

After hearing all the sides, Chatterjee, in his order stated, "Since the parties have failed to agree to execute and register the agreement for sale, the Respondent (developer) shall treat the allotment as cancelled and refund all amounts paid by the complainants, without interest."

Prabhu said, "We have already written to the MahaRERA chief seeking clarity, as the present order doesn't mention: a) by when the developer has to pay the refund; b) no mention of interest from default period since the time of order, as the developer may challenge the RERA order in tribunals and High Court and this period should be included in the interest claim; and c) no direction has been given to the developer to not sell the said flats until the payments are cleared. We have no option but to move the tribunal, challenging the vague order passed by MahaRERA."

Bombay Realty, via a spokesperson, said, "Bombay Realty has always operated in accordance with the law of the land. Our legal team is studying the matter and we will be appealing to the Appellate tribunal."

Expert speak
Advocate Vinod Sampat, MahaRERA consultant and consumer lawyer, said, "It is common knowledge that builders fail to comply with their statutory as well as contractual obligations and are let off at times leniently. The moot question is, what about liabilities incurred by the purchasers such as service tax, GST, etc? Admittedly, builders pressurise the flat buyers as well. The need of the day is to take action against builders."

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