The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act completes a year on May 1, 2018. Under this Act, government of Maharashtra established Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA), dated March 8, 2017, for regulation and promotion of real estate sector in Maharashtra. The act has brought relief to thousands of home-buyers and it has helped register more than 11,000 odd projects. Gautam Chatterjee, Chairman of Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (MahaRERA), in an interview with Karishma Ravindran of The Free Press Journal, explains the challenges faced by the regulator and to bring the act on a digital platform
The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act has brought relief to thousands of home-buyers since the time it came into force. What were the challenges that came your way in implementing the act?
Being the former Housing Secretary of the state, the concepts in the RERA act were similar to the ones framed under Maharashtra act.
RERA is a quasi-judicial body and the main challenge was to implement the rules and regulations under the act which was released by the central government. Between the year 2016 and 2017, the challenge was to put in place the rules and regulations on the digital platform. We also had to make sure that we do not default on the timeline framed under the act.
There was a fear of the stakeholders not complying with the provisions of the act, but we took them into confidence after explaining them the benefit it would give to the home buyers. Thereby, we aimed at reaching out to promoters and consumers to make awareness regarding the act.
How was the awareness campaign conducted as you had to reach out to each consumer and promoter in Maharashtra?
We strove hard to reach out to the promoters and get all the projects registered under the act. We conducted several seminars in co-ordination with the property developers’ body and Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (CREDAI). I remember giving speeches at several venues, many of which outside Mumbai.
There were day-long events that were conducted which helped spread information to promoters. Within a period of 90 days, we were able to register at least to 11,000 projects under RERA. During these seminars, we also reached out to the consumers (home-buyers) to make them aware about the fact.
This was conducted in co-ordination with Mumbai Grahak Panchayat and a web portal was created simultaneously with the implementation of the act.
Probably in a first, RERA also summoned government bodies seeking explanation on their delays in issuing Occupational Certificate or other related documents to the home buyers? How did MahaRERA handle with such cases?
We summoned the government bodies in order to understand the whole case after a particular complaint was filed by a home-buyer. It is important that we hear the say of all the concerned parties involved in a particular case.
Is there a rule to impose penalty up to certain per cent of the total project cost in case of repeat offence by a promoter for not following norms under the act while publishing advertisement?
The prime objective is not to penalise the promoter but to complete the project in time. Our aim is to complete the projects within the stipulated time.
The section 63 of the act reads, (If a promoter fails to comply with orders or directions of RERA, he shall be liable to a penalty, which may extend up to five per cent, of the estimated cost of the project as determined by the Authority (Section 63).) Till now, we have heard and resolved at least 1200 out of the total 2400 complaints filed by the home buyer. We have also received a suggestion from the home-buyer which states that the ownership of the flat must be given to them within three months of issuing the OC. Today, the buyers take more than a year to get the ownership. The rules are framed by the central government. No decision has been taken on this as yet.
How do you think the decision of bringing Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) and Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) under the act will benefit the people?
This is a positive move taken by the state government. As the rehabilitation part of SRA and redevelopment part of MHADA has come under RERA, we can expect more professionalism by the concerned authority while implementing the projects.
What can the home-buyers expect from RERA act in future? Will there be more stringent rules (amendments) under the act?
Our motto is to complete the real estate projects within the given stipulated time. If required, amendments would be made to the current RERA act by the central government.