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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Post-RERA house-hunting: What works and what doesn’t

Three months after the MahaRERA website became operational, problems such as possession dates for multi-phase townships and jargon-heavy language, emerge.

real-estate Updated: Jan 01, 2018 15:36 IST
Team HT Estates
Team HT Estates
Hindustan Times
(Illustration: Sudhir Shetty)

The Real Estate Regulation Authority aims to ensure transparency in real estate, timeliness of delivery and overall regulation of the sector. So what is it like to go house-hunting months after the law came into effect in Maharashtra in July? It turns out to be quite a mixed bag, as HT Estates reporter Lavina Mulchandani found when she ended up doing a de facto trial run during her house-hunt.

After scouring projects for an ideal flat for almost three months, Mulchandani shortlisted one in Ambernath in Thane district in September. Construction was nearly complete and the project was listed under MahaRERA; the developer promised possession in December. To confirm that the date had been listed under the new law as well, she visited the MahaRERA website. The only possession date listed was for the entire phase of the township project in which her flat and its building were situated. The date mentioned was December 2020. The phase includes eight buildings, construction for some of which has not yet begun.

In cases of township or multiphase projects, a legal advisor from MahaRERA (the Authority employs advisors to explain to consumers what their options are in case of defaults by a developer) confirmed, only the sale deed will contain a month and year of possession for your flat. “If the developer fails to hand over possession on the date, we ask him for a justification and grant him a period of three to six months to finish the project. After that he is slapped with penalties,” the legal advisor said.

With the possession date thus uncertain, Mulchandani opted for a ready-to-move-in flat instead.

Teething problems

When Ashish Sukhramani, 30, a software engineer from Thane, was trying to confirm details on the MahaRERA website of a project in Mulund that he was interested in, found jargon to be a big stumbling block. Details about the water supply and sewage system were described in abbreviations. Terms like ‘Connection from ESR; WIP’ made no sense to the layman. “Litigations against the projects are also described in acronyms and legalese,” he says. “The project information is ostensibly meant for buyers, but it’s too complicated for them to understand,” says Samir Jasuja, managing director and founder of PropEquity, an online real-estate data and analytics platform. “We have a team of experts that analyse the information. But that’s like needing an accountant to help you file your income-tax returns.”

Some of these issues will likely be resolved over time, but it’s important for users to submit their feedback in order for this to happen effectively, says Jasuja.

Theory vs practice

The version of RERA that has come into force is a diluted one, says Pankaj Kapoor, CEO of realestate research company Liases Foras. “Projects that are 60% or more complete, for instance, are now outside the ambit of RERA in some states, including Maharashtra,” he adds. Authorities should also have specified exact time frames for all types of projects, Kapoor says. “For instance, a project of an area of 1 lakh sqft should be completed in three years.” RERA is going through a lot of internal transformations based on feedback from consultancies and developers. “Once the initial stumbling blocks are removed, it could emerge as strong a regulator as the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI),” Jasuja says. Meanwhile, the number of helplines will increase, says the MahaRERA legal advisor, and the website aims to become more elaborate in the future.

First Published: Jan 01, 2018 15:36 IST