After a Twitter campaign forced governments and development authorities to finally get serious about complaints from Noida’s Amrapali Sapphire residents, experts have come up with solutions to end their woes. Instead of making buyers wait for possession of their units, authorities should mortgage a developer’s unsold stock to recover money for land allotment and issue a completion certificate on time.
If a completion certificate cannot be handed over to the developer because of non-payment of dues, the authority should take over the unsold housing units in that project and issue a completion certificate to allow buyers to move in. “His unsold stock can be escrowed for land repayment,” says Getamber Anand of Confederation of Real Estate Developers Associations of India (Credai). Getting a completion certificate should be prioritised at any cost.
Buyers who move into residential complexes that do not have a completion certificate should not do so as it is illegal, warn experts.
Under the UP Urban Planning and Development Act 1973, no property can be used for habitation unless an occupation certificate or a completion certificate is given by the sanctioning authority. This is reiterated in the UP Apartment Act 2010, says SK Pal, a Supreme Court lawyer.
In Noida, where properties are on leasehold, builders sometimes permit people to move in for renovation (fit-outs) after they sign an affidavit stating that they would take possession of the flat only for fit-out purpose and in case of eventuality, the builder will not be responsible for their safety. The buyer, already under pressure to pay for his current rental accommodation and EMIs for the new apartment, has no option but to sign the document and move into the new complex, Pal says.
Allowing buyers to move into a project without a completion certificate also violates Article 21, which is about a person’s right to life. In case of a fire, any building without a completion certificate would pose a grave risk to its residents. Such a structure is unlikely to have safety and other features required for a completion certificate.
Of late, hundreds of homebuyers have campaigned through social media to draw the attention of administrators and all stakeholders to their problems. “The fact is that the Central government has offered a solution to states in the form of a real estate regulator but no state has taken action in that direction so far,” says Pal.
About 700 homebuyers in a complex in Noida which lacked firefighting systems, elevators and had lifts and ill-maintained parking lots, had been waiting to get their apartments registered but could not do so because the builder had not paid land dues to the authority. They finally took to Twitter to ensure their grievances were heard by the administration directly.
The handle #AmrapaliMisuse Dhoni received over 35 lakh impressions and forced Amrapali’s brand ambassador, cricketer MS Dhoni, to quit. The residents then tagged UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who later directed the Noida Authority to resolve the occupation certificate issue. A committee headed by the additional chief executive officer (ACEO) has since been set up to look into the matter.
“We booked a housing unit in this Noida project in 2009 and possession was due in 2012 but the deadline was extended. By 2013 families had started moving in. Today over 800 people live in the complex. There are 1,049 apartments in phase 1. None of the towers have any firefighting equipment, there are only two lifts though three were promised, the parking lots have not been maintained well and the swimming pool is leaking,” says R K Shrivastav, one of the residents of Amrapali Sapphire project in Noida 45.
“We were paying both EMIs and the rent and had no option but to move in despite the facilities not being in place. In December last year, the builder promised us that all basic facilities within the complex would be ready by March 31, 2016, but when nothing happened we took this step. We decided to use the social medium because it has direct impact and we had waited far too long. All 700 people were involved in the campaign, even senior citizens who did not know how to tweet were trained to do so. My advice to homebuyers is that they should constantly educate themselves,” he says.
Anil Sharma, chairman and managing director of the Amrapali Group, had said that only 4% to 5% work was pending, which would be completed in the next two to three months and the registration process would also start soon.
This is not an isolated case. Residents of another project, Amrapali Royal, by the builder, in Indirapuram, have a similar story to tell. The almost eight-year-old society has not received a completion certificate as a deed of declaration has not been issued by the developer because additional 63 flats (out of 391) have been constructed in the complex. “In case of an earthquake or fire, these house owners will not be entitled to any claim, nor will they be able to sell the unsanctioned flats. There are no firefighting systems in place and only one basement as against two has been promised in the plan,” claims a resident living in one such unit.
Earlier in March, homebuyers in Noida and Greater Noida recorded a video message and tagged prime minister Narendra Modi on social networking websites, urging him to pass the Real Estate Regulatory Bill during the budget session. Their efforts led to the passage of the Bill.