The fire audit of our building has not been done for ages. How often should the audit be done? Can the managing committee be held responsible if there is a fire?
Ranbir Ahluwalia, Sion
I don’t know the age and height of your building. I take it that your building is old. There is no legal provision for fire audit of older buildings. In Mumbai fire audit is required for high-rises above 70 metres. The Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006, applies prospectively for new construction as the structure of the older buildings cannot be changed to comply with the fire prevention and life safety measures prescribed in the aforesaid Act. However, the bye-laws require the societies to have an emergency plan. Your society could hire the services of a licensed agency to provide minimum fire safety installations like fire extinguishers.
Developers have to comply with provisions of Schedule I of the said Act before obtaining the occupation certificate from municipal authorities. Schedule I provides for prevention and safety measure to be installed like fire extinguishers, first aid hose reel, automatic sprinkler systems, etc, depending on the height of the building. The owner / occupier has to appoint a licensed agency to ensure that the fire installations are well maintained and comply with the fire prevention and safety measures. The agency must issue a certificate twice a year. The society must submit this certificate to the Fire Brigade Office in January and July.
Anyone who contravenes the provisions of the said Act will be liable for imprisonment of a term of six months to three years and fine. Since the managing committee is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the society premises, they can be held responsible for non-compliance.
I live on the top floor of my building. Every monsoon the terrace leaks and the water enters my flat. How can I solve the problem?
Mustafa Ahmed, Byculla
The managing committee is responsible for maintaining the property of the society. The bye-laws inter alia provide that repairs and maintenance of the terrace and parapet wall is required to be carried out by the society at its own cost. You can file a complaint with the
society for waterproofing the terrace before the monsoon. The secretary will inspect your premises for leakage and submit his report stating the need for repairs, if any, to the committee. If the expenditure is high then a meeting of the general body will be required to approve the tender. The decision taken will have to be communicated to you within 15 days. In case you do not receive a communication within 15 days or the decision taken is not satisfactory, you can file a complaint with the Cooperative Court or the Consumer Commission against the society. (2014 Bye-laws 155-157, 159, 172-174).
I live in a building without an occupation certificate. What action can the BMC or any authority take against me?
Gautamrai Thakkar, Kandivili
It is the responsibility of the developer to provide the OC. As per MOFA it is unsafe and illegal to occupy a flat in a building without OC. In one of its rulings, MahaRERA Authority has directed its secretary to notify the BMC to proceed against 45 homebuyers who took possession and occupied flats before obtaining OC. In another case a similar view was taken by the Bombay High Court against 49 occupiers. This is apart from the risk of safety you may face as the OC is granted to a project only after verifying that the building is constructed as per the approved plans and having certificates for lift installation, fire clearance, provision of electricity and water supply, etc. Please find out from the BMC reasons for not granting OC for your building and then take it up with your developer. The society can file a complaint with the Consumer Commission to seek relief. Sitting tight will not help.
The questions are answered by Sharmila Ranade, a legal expert associated with Mumbai Grahak Panchayat. The questions, in brief, may be sent to email@example.com