Consumer Connect: 'Builder Can't Make Advance Demand For Maintenance,' Says Expert

Consumer Connect: 'Builder Can't Make Advance Demand For Maintenance,' Says Expert

The questions are answered by Adv. Shirish V. Deshpande, Chairman – Mumbai Grahak Panchayat.

FPJ News ServiceUpdated: Monday, May 13, 2024, 10:47 AM IST
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Consumer Connect | FPJ

The builder has offered possession of our flats by Mayend. However, he is demanding an exorbitant amount by way of advance maintenance for two years. This is a redevelopment project in which I have purchased a flat. The society is very much already in place, which is bound to take care of monthly maintenance. Then why should the builder collect two years’ maintenance charge? Can MahaRERA not control such malpractices?

Milan Chitale, Kandivali (East)

It is true that builders / developers are asking homebuyers to pay substantial amounts running into a couple of lakhs towards maintenance for one or even two years. This is contrary to RERA provisions. Section 11 (4) (e) of RERA mandates that the builder shall take steps to form an association or co-operative societies of homebuyers within three months of the majority of flats being booked. Further, Section 17 makes it obligatory for the builder to execute the conveyance within three months from the date of the occupancy certificate.

Since RERA provisions expressly mandate preexistence of co-operative society at the time of handing over possession of flats, there is no need for the builder to demand advance maintenance charges, that too for two years. In your case, it being a redevelopment project, the society already exiss. Hence the builder’s demand is illegal.

You can first write to the builder pointing out the above-mentioned RERA provisions and inform him that you are agreeable to pay the advance maintenance directly to the society and that he should not deny you the possession on this count. If he does not agree, you should complain to MahaRERA.

Our society is currently under redevelopment and has 24 members. The redevelopment agreement was signed in 2015 and the supplementary one in 2017, whereby the developer reduced the additional free area from 35% to 27%. In the past two years, the work has come only up to the plinth. The developer is facing financial problems there is also a dispute among the partners. Rent is not being paid to us regularly. Even the corpus amount has not been paid. Of the 24 members, 18 are retired. Can we terminate the agreement and get in a new developer? Will termination lead to long-drawn and expensive litigation that we cannot afford.

Aruna Kalelkar, Borivali

This is not a rare situation. At the behest of the Bombay High Court, the government issued a GR dated March 4 to see that senior citizens do not suffer on account of delay in completion of redevelopment projects. Although this GR is more addressed to MHADA authorities, the court observed in its judgement that it would be appropriate that immediate steps are taken by the state government as also by the BMC, MMRDA, SRA, etc, to form a special cell to look at redevelopment projects involving senior citizens. (Ref: ‘Jayashree Dholi v/s Dy Registrar, Co-op Societies’ HC Order dated March 7.)

Coming back to your case, you have the option to terminate the agreement after serving a legal notice asking the developer to rectify all the breaches within a month. The notice should also ask for evidence that the developer is in a position to complete the project within a reasonable time-frame. If the termination is done with proper care, the legal challenge to it will be short-lived in view of several judgments of the high court taking to task such defaulting developers. Parallelly, your society should start looking for reliable developers who would take care of such redevelopment projects.

(Advocate Shirish Deshpande is chairman, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat. Queries may be sent to shirish50@yahoo.com)

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