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Buyers get a raw deal

For the past eight years, the residents of the Raigad cooperative housing society in Rajendra Nagar, Borivli (east) have had to pay double the water charges for no fault of theirs.

mumbai Updated: Nov 13, 2011 00:46 IST
Naresh Kamath

For the past eight years, the residents of the Raigad cooperative housing society in Rajendra Nagar, Borivli (east) have had to pay double the water charges for no fault of theirs.

Their builder had not paid the dues and had also constructed some parts of the complex illegally so the seven-storeyed building was not granted an Occupation Certificate (OC), without which it is not entitled to a water connection from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

The civic body now supplies water to the society on humanitarian grounds, but charges double the amount that it collects from buildings with OCs.

“We are being penalised unjustly,” said Subhash Chavan, secretary of Raigad society. “The builder made his money and exited, leaving us to fend for ourselves.”

The society has recently filed a case in the consumer court demanding a compensation of Rs50 lakh from the errant builder.

Other issues such as delayed possession, non-payment of maintenance charges, society formation as well as non-delivery of amenities are common complaints among homebuyers.

Housing activists blame the state government for this state of affairs – where the developers are treated with kid gloves while buyers get a raw deal after spending so much money on buying a flat.

“The authorities should make provisions such as blacklisting of builders and making them pay heavy fines,” said Sheetal Chheda, secretary of Ravathy Foundation, an NGO that deals with housing issues. “Here, the builder has violated rules and gone out of the picture and the residents are paying for his callousness, which is grossly unfair.”

One of the biggest issues for Mumbaiites looking to buy homes is the amount they have to pay builders for parking slots — builders charge as much as Rs 5 lakh for one parking — which in itself is an illegal practice.

Inderpal Singh, a brand manager, was forced to pay Rs 1.75 lakh as parking charges when he bought a flat in a Santacruz building in 2006. “There is no way you can purchase a flat without paying for the parking slot,” said Singh.

The problems housing societies face because of callousness on the part of builders are endless. The BMC has slapped a penalty of around Rs 15 lakh on the 25 flat owners of the Gorai Arihant society in Borivli (west) because their builder skipped paying the taxes.

“We cannot afford to pay such a huge amount and that too for no fault of ours,” said LB Deshpande, secretary of the building.

Yogi Nagar, one of the bigger housing colonies in Borivli (west) with 70 buildings, has been around for 27 years, but it still does not possess conveyance deeds. “The builder is delaying the matter unnecessarily,” said Satish Shirodkar, secretary, Yogi Nagar Housing Societies Association.

Faced with a deteriorating situation, the Maharashtra Chambers for Housing Industry (MCHI), which has 1, 500 members, unveiled a code of conduct for developers and has set up a grievance committee to solve builder-related issues in an informal manner.

“Our focus is to reduce the tension between the builder and the flat buyer,” said Paras Gundecha, president, MCHI.

In its code of conduct, the MCHI has made it mandatory that its members sell flats only after getting the requisite permissions and exit after completing all the required formalities.

Advocate Vinod Sampat said a state-appointed regulatory body would bring a welcome change. “Actions such as registrations of builders, the timeframe of projects, separate bank accounts for each project and fines and punishments for errant builders will improve the scenario,” he said.

Sachin Ahir, state minister for housing, said the government is serious about improving the state of affairs. “We are improving the Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act, which will be unveiled soon and setting up a regulatory body,” said Ahir.

A decade-long fight for the land

Mohan Sonawane, secretary, Jayraj Nagar Residents Welfare Association

The 1,500 members of Jayraj Nagar in Borivli (west) have been fighting to obtain their conveyance deed for the past 10 years. The builder is not giving them the ownership of the land, which is their due, claiming that he has not yet completed construction on the plot.

“We cannot undertake any activity without the permission of the builder as he still holds the right to the land,” said Mohan Sonawane, secretary of the Jayraj Nagar Residents Welfare Association. “No builder comes here for redevelopment as we are still not the owners.”

The trouble when a society does not have the conveyance deed is that it has to go to the builder for everything, be it for installing a mobile tower in the locality or availing loan for society repairs.

Sonawane said he has been doing regular rounds of various government offices to get the deed, but the process is cumbersome and is financially draining.

“Builders want to exploit any further potential of the land so they deliberately try not to give the conveyance,” said Sreedhar Sharma, a housing activist.