The Centre has done well to give a date, May 1, 2017, in the provisions of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act as the cut-off after which builders can no longer defer the deadline on completing and delivering homes to buyers. Some of the mandated norms for the builders are that they must give the date of possession to the buyers in writing and pay the money deposited by the buyers at an interest rate of 10.9% in case the deadline for project completion is breached. This is a great relief to buyers who have suffered at the hands of developers for years. Builders must also be required to submit clear blueprints and timelines and their ads on completion and possession must be verified.
Both the present government and the previous UPA deserve praise for this. The UPA conceived of a real estate regulator, which was then given shape by the NDA government. Finally it was the Supreme Court’s issuing of orders against builders, including the big ones, to refund buyers which has been an enabler in the process. The legislation concerned has brought in transparency, discipline and accountability. The law mandates that approvals be taken before sale. This increases the threshold cost for the builders, which means only the solvent ones among them get into the business. Seventy per cent of the sale proceeds must be deposited in an escrow account. Builders, many of whom are enthused by the provisions of the legislation, on their part are asking for a single-window clearance to reduce the holding cost of land. All these have given a fresh lease of life to a sector that was so far considerd a haven for black money. Moreover, to educate real estate brokers, courses and seminars are being organised by the Real Estate Management Institute in association with the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India.
But in all this, there is a fly in the ointment. It is that sometimes state laws come in the way of the implementation of the central legislation. For example, the Uttar Pradesh Apartment (Promotion of Construction, Ownership and Maintenance) Act 2010 used to mandate project completion within 24 months. Now this is sought to be done away with. So it should be incumbent upon the state governments to see to it that their own laws do not come into conflict with the RERA.