The announcement of refund in cases involving two large developers in Gurgaon and Ghaziabad have left homebuyers relieved but merely getting the amount back is not enough for them to buy another house in the same locality where they originally chose these apartments, they say.
Homebuyers who had invested in Unitech’s Vista project in Gurgaon years ago are relieved with the Supreme Court ordering refund of Rs 16.5 crore to 39 buyers but are doubtful if they will be able to afford a similar apartment with the refund. They are also worried that they will be again waiting for possession (as they did so far) if they invest in under-construction properties .
The Supreme Court today ordered Unitech to refund Rs 16 crore to 39 apartment buyers. The apex court refused to rely on Unitech’s assurance of possession by 2017. The builder has already deposited Rs 15 crore in the Supreme Court registry (which will be given later to the homebuyers) and the court has ordered that it deposit Rs 2 crore in four weeks.
“Voice of anguish is echoed in the courtroom (by the buyers) as their dreams are shattered. A property developer has to have a contractual commitment and has to live up to the terms of the contract and gain trust so that people who dream of having a house can repost faith in him,” a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said while asking the top court’s registry to let the investors withdraw money after their verification.
One of the buyers, who was part of the group seeking refunds, said that while he was happy that the money was being returned, he would not get a house worth the same amount in any project close to the Unitech project. “We were sure that the builder would not be able to deliver the flat for the next three years and not get the occupation certificate either. We thought we would never be in position to occupy the flat.”
The biggest challenge so far has been that while most of the buyers got together and pooled in money to fight the case, at least eight from the group of 39 represented the case themselves.
Sunil Bharadwaj of the Vistas Residents Association says that since the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 has already been notified, the Supreme Court should ideally decide the interest component in line with RERA and give the buyers 18% interest.” Out of a total of 1,288 buyers, only 39 have gone in for a refund application. As of now we will also not be in a position to buy anything that is ready-to-move-in even with the amount that will eventually be refunded to us. We may be forced to invest in a new launch and there is every possibility that we may get into the same rut even after going through this mess for almost seven years,” he says.
The Supreme Court order came a day after the same Bench asked Parsvnath Developers to refund Rs 22 crore to 70 apartment buyers in its Exotica project in Ghaziabad. A Bench comprising justices Dipak Misra, Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar allowed buyers to receive the refund of the principal amount paid by them in 2010. The interest component and compensation for delay in handing flats would be dealt with at a later stage, the court said. The refund would come partly from the Rs 12 crore deposit made by the developer with the apex court’s registry. The court asked Parsvnath to deposit an additional Rs10 crore by December 10. The company’s Exotica project in Ghaziabad hit a roadblock after the Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA) quashed a revised plan of construction.
A buyer who had invested in the Parsvnath project says that even if the buyers were to get 12% interest as penalty, the amount will be subject to 30% tax under Income Tax laws which means we will effectively received only 8.5% interest. “All this while we have also been paying EMIs and rent, that is not something for which we will be compensated,” he says.
But he is sure that he will now only go for a ready-to-move-in home and not go for something where possession in due in the next three months. “I don’t want to take that risk. What is the guarantee that the builder will deliver the project even after three months,” he asks.