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Housing projects: Banks have to be more transparent

Most banks have a list of housing projects for which they will not give home loans. HT writes.
Hindustan Times | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2011 11:04 PM IST

Most banks have a list of housing projects for which they will not give home loans. These projects may be in unauthorized colonies or the builder may be blacklisted, or there may be some other legal hassle vis-à-vis the property. Banks may well have their reasons, but surely they can share this information with their consumers?

In a number of cases, applicants are not informed up front that the project in which they intend to invest is not approved by the bank and, therefore, they would not get the loan. Instead, the application is accepted and only later, the applicant is told that the bank cannot give the loan. By then, the consumer would have lost precious time.

Why can’t the banks provide their customers with a list of ‘unapproved’ projects so that consumers investing in any of them can apply elsewhere? Banks can even put up such information on their websites for the benefit of consumers.

The banking regulator, who has given detailed guidelines to banks on home loans, should ask them to be fair and transparent in their policies and inform consumers upfront about projects that are in their ‘negative’ list. This would save consumers considerable hardship.

Vijay Rathore

Please suggest what action I can take to make the bank disburse this loan or reimburse me at least the financial losses I am incurring due to their mistake.

This is a case of gross negligence on the part of the bank and they cannot escape responsibility for it. Complain to the Nodal Officer of the Bank and send a copy to the Reserve Bank.

The Nodal Officer should ensure that your loan is released without further delay and the interest paid by you on account of delayed payment to the builder is also reimbursed by the bank. If he fails to act positively, then you have to make alternate arrangements and seek the help of the Banking Ombudsman or the consumer court for relief.

Let me quote here two orders of the apex consumer court delivered in 2010 on the subject.

In the first case, an NRI couple, who had taken a loan of R28 lakh from ICICI Home Finance, was lured by HSBC with a loan offer of R40 lakh to help them tide over the additional demand from the builder. However, after taking over the loan, it never paid the additional amount, forcing them to make alternate arrangements.

Here, HSBC was asked to refund the foreclosure penalty paid by the couple to ICICI bank as well as the interest paid by them to the builder for delayed payment and also pay a compensation of R1 lakh to the couple. (HSBC Limited Vs Sridhar Gujala and Ors, RP No 1383 of 2009, decided on May 25, 2010)

In another case, the consumer court took to task ICICI Home Finance for its failure to disburse a home loan of R70,000, after sanctioning it and collecting even the first installment towards repayment. The bank was directed to pay a compensation of R30,000 to the consumer. (Jagmohan Lal Mohan Vs ICICI Home Finance Company, RP no 753 of 2006, decided on March 5, 2010 ).

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