"I always felt very secure and very safe with real estate. Real estate always appreciates."
You enjoy a sense of pride, owning an apartment or a plot of land. You get the boasting rights. Yes, you truly are a King. Everything about real estate is great, except the unscrupulous builder. Unscrupulous builders are very good in advertising projects and making false promises, especially at the time of collecting the booking amount. When you get possession of the apartment, you find the ceiling leaking or the construction of very poor quality.
Unscrupulous builders are known to sell the same apartment to you and also other buyers. They also sell you property under litigation. Some of the worse frauds....Builders sell you property on lake beds, illegally acquired government land and agricultural land, claiming its residential land. The worse fraud....Builders delay giving you possession of your apartment for many years.
Finally, the Government has heard your prayers. The Real Estate Regulation and Development Act, 2016, or RERA had come into effect on May 1st 2017. RERA aims to punish unscrupulous builders and help ordinary citizens like you and me, get that dream home.
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You are forced to stay in a rented apartment for a little more time. You suffer a monetary loss not to mention, frustration and worry. Availed a home loan and bought an under construction apartment? You are eligible for a tax deduction up to INR 2 Lakhs a year under Section 24, against payment of interest on home loans, if you get possession of your apartment within 5 years of taking the loan.
If the builder does not give you possession even after 5 years, you get a tax deduction of just INR 30,000 a year. You are losing out on tax benefits for no fault of yours. RERA says, if the builder delays possession of the apartment within the agreed time period, he would have to return the entire amount with interest. But, is this rule also for older projects?
You have booked an apartment in the project of a builder. More than 5 years have passed and there is no sign you will ever get possession of your apartment. You join other buyers in protest. The builder does not pay heed to your protest.
You and other buyers then register a case of fraud and criminal breach of trust against the builder, at the local police station. The police assures you of immediate action, but you are yet to hear from them. Should you approach the real estate regulator?
You and a number of buyers who have been delayed possession of apartments, have filed cases in courts and appealed to consumer courts for help. These cases are still on-going.Can you transfer these cases to the real estate regulator which believes in fast-track dispute resolution?
Unfortunately No....On-going cases in courts and consumer forums do not come under the jurisdiction/ambit of the real estate regulator. There are no provisions for the compulsory transfer of pending proceeding to the regulatory authority, which has been established under RERA.
If a builder or a developer registers a project with the real estate regulator, he can be held liable for project breaches only for future deadlines. If the builder has defaulted or made a project breach before registration, the real estate regulator cannot take any action against the builder.
So what can you do if your pre-RERA project is delayed by the builder?
Let's say your builder has registered the project with the real estate regulator. If your builder commits any breach in the project or delays giving you possession of your apartment, the jurisdiction of this dispute goes to RERA. It does not go to any civil court. You can file a complaint against the builder with the real estate regulator, under Section 31 of the Act. All you need to do is fill the prescribed form and pay the applicable fees.
After you file the complaint, the real estate regulator has only 60 days to dispose your case. If it cannot do so, it has to give and record the reasons for not being able to do so. If you are not happy with the judgment of the real estate regulator, you must approach the Appellate Tribunal which will hear your appeal. You can always appeal your case in the High Court or Supreme Court of India.
Yes, RERA is here and will help you in the fight against the powerful builder. Remember, no regulator can solve your problems in its first month. It will be some time before the real estate regulator is able to take on and them defeat, the unscrupulous builder. Be Wise, Get Rich.
Mr C.S.Sudheer is a management graduate. He started his career with ICICI Prudential Life Insurance and later on worked with Howden India. After his brief stint in Howden India, he moved on and incorporated Suvision Holdings Pvt Ltd which is the sole promoter of IndianMoney.com. He aims to build a nation that is financially literate with investment savvy citizens.
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