Real Estate sector plays a crucial role in strengthening the economy. It is one of the fastest-growing markets which can mainly be attributable to factors such as large population, the rising level of income, and urbanization. The builders were engaged in taking huge advances and the projects were not also not completed in time. The buyers defaulted in making periodic payments. To overcome the problems, to regulate the activities, and to bring in a systematic structure to the sector, the Real Estate Regulation Act was introduced.
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What is RERA?
The Real Estate(Regulation&Development) Bill,2016 was passed by the Parliament on the 25th day of March 2016. It came into effect from 1st May 2016. The Real Estate Regulation Act aims at the regulation and promotion of the real estate sector to ensure the sale of plot, apartment or building, as the case may be, or to the sale of real estate projects, in an efficient and transparent manner and to protect the interest of the consumers in the real estate sector.
Who are the parties in RERA?
Promoter is the one who constructs or facilitates the construction of an independent building or apartments or conversion of existing buildings or apartments for the purpose of selling them. It also includes a person to develop the land into a project.
Allottee means the person to whom a plot, building, apartment as the case may be, sold, allotted, or transferred by the promoter. It also includes a person who subsequently acquires the said allotment through sale transfer or otherwise.
3.Real Estate Agent:
Real estate agent means any person who negotiates or acts on behalf of a person in the transaction of transfer of his plot, apartment, or building in a real estate project by way of sale. He receives remuneration or fees or any other service charges whether as a commission or otherwise. They are also called property dealers, brokers, middlemen by whatever name they are called.
Prominent features of RERA:
- The Act will apply to the projects that are ongoing on the date of commencement of the Act and completion certificate has not been issued.
- Real estate Regulatory Authorities will be set up in every state. The buyer could approach the body for redressal of the grievances.
- This Act applies to both residential and commercial properties.
- It is necessary for the agents dealing with registered projects to get registered with the RERA.
- Registration is mandatory for the developers to sell the projects.
- In case a buyer has been deceived into a purchase through false representation or advertisement, he has the option to exit the project. The developer, in such a case, will have to return the money along with interest.
- All residential real estate projects where the land is over 500 square meters or 8 apartments, need to register with the RERA for launching a project.
- Appropriate government(Central and State Government), has the option to reduce the threshold limit(500 square meters or 8 apartments).
- Exemption for Registration:
- Projects that are developed on land less than 500 square meters.
- Number of units does not exceed 8(all phases)
- Projects that have obtained completion certificates prior to the commencement of this Act.
- Renovation or any changes in the project which do not involve marketing, advertisement, and selling.
Who can file a complaint against the builders under RERA?
Any aggrieved party may file a complaint with the authority for any violation or contravention of the provisions of this Act or the rules and regulations made thereunder against any promotor allottee or real estate agent, as the case may be.
Following are some of the instances where a complaint can be filed:
- Delay in payment of deposits or the installments by the allottee.
- Failure on the part of the promoter to deliver the project within time.
- Matters with respect to the settlement of compensation.
- Where false information has been provided by the promoter.
- Where the promoter makes a false or misleading representation concerning the services.
- Failure on the part of the promoter to keep 70% of the amount in an escrow account.
- Where the buyer does not comply with the orders of the authorities.
Complaint format under RERA?
Step 1 –
RERA is not a centralized Act and the rules and regulations vary from one state to another. The complainant has to visit the official website of the State in order to file a complaint. Search for the page of Complaint Registration.
Step 2 –
On clicking the complaint registration link, the complainant has to fill the requisite details. Complainants have to submit their personal details which may include Name, Contact and Project Details, Address along with the supporting documents.
Step 3 –
On successful submission of the details, the complainant is then required to pay fees for filing the complaint.
Where to file a complaint?
Complaints can be filed either with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority or the adjudicating officer under Section 31 of the Act. Complaints can be filed against the developers, allottees, or the real estate agents. As each state is governed by its own act, each of the states has laid down procedures as to how the complaint has been filed with their respective government. Complaints can be filed online. Some of them are as under:
Problems which are needed to be addressed by RERA
The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA) has addressed some of the most critical issues in the last two years. However, there are still some issues that must be addressed for boosting buyer’s confidence.
Consumer Forum vs RERA
Even though RERA addresses all the cases, still they stand eligible to go to the consumer forum. And both the judgments stand applicable which causes problems. That is if one buyer goes to RERA to file the complaint and other buyer files the same case in consumer forum then the judgments were given by RERA authority and consumer forum both are applicable. The Real Estate (Regulatory and Development) Act 2016 very clearly states all civil courts, it doesn’t use the word forum, therefore it means that cases can still go to the consumer forum and then you have parallel orders of the same project.”
Structural defects in a building fall under the responsibility of the developer of the project as he is responsible to ensure that the property is free from any structural defects before handing over the property. It is him who has to ensure that there are no structural defects in the tower before handing over to residents. And even if it occurs later the developer should be the one who addresses them. “A structural defect and effects of workmanship are two different things but according to the Act, they have been under a single section. The start date for both is provided as the date of possession. The structural defect is taken based on the date of completion certificate because it’s for the whole building and it should be for 5 years.
The carpet area of a property is a considerable influence in determining the price of a property. It also defines the area that a buyer will get when possession is provided. So, it is very important that it is well defined so that nobody can take advantage of the incomplete definition. “Carpet area of a property is definitionally weak under The RERA Act.
For instance, a covered balcony for exclusive use is being excluded from the carpet area, now there is no benefit for the builders in it because it costs as much to build it. Thus the balconies are generally left out as it cannot be counted as a part of the carpet area. This step can have an adverse impact due to the kind of lifestyle and the climate that we have in our country
Rights and duties to Agents
Rera does talk about the rights and duties of buyers and developers. However, there is no clarity about the rights and duties of a real estate agent who plays an equal and has a crucial role to play in this industry.
The developer must deliver the completed project
The developers have to ensure that all the facilities mentioned in the Boucher at the time of sale, all have to be delivered to the buyer at the time of possession, i.e. the have to ensure that the completed project is delivered.
When a new Act gets implemented many problems will be faced. With more and more cases being registered, flaws are being noticed which the intern is bringing in all this into the notice of the authorities. But, more importantly, RERA must first get implemented properly then even these flaws will get streamlined. Apart from restricting itself to merely stating the issues and importance of educating customers, it is recommended that it should address or clarifies these issues. It will not only increase confidence in the minds of the customers but also motivate them to invest in the market and at the same time be sure that there is no way that anybody could cheat them.
BENEFITS OF RERA
- There will be proper information about the property.
- Builders will be held responsible for any structural default in the project which is brought to his notice within 5 years of the date of possession
- The builders have to get approval from 2/3rd of the allottees or the buyers in case of any change to the proposed plan thereby protecting the interest of the buyers.
- There is transparency as the developers will have to reveal the project related details including layout, plan, etc.
- Grievances will be addressed and solved quickly.
- Can anyone file an application with RERA authority?
Yes, any person can file an application with the RERA who is interested in the ongoing project. It can be filed online as per the guidelines and format of their respective states.
- What are the key provisions of RERA?
Key provisions of RERA are
- The promoter has to maintain a separate escrow account for each of his projects.
- A minimum of 70% of the money from the investors and buyers will have to be deposited.
- Any change in the plan by the builder would require approval from 2/3rd of the allottees or buyers in the project.
- Builders would be liable for any structural defects brought to his notice within 5 years from the date of possession.
- Application or booking fee cannot be more than 10% of the cost of the apartment, building, or plot.
- What is the penalty for non-compliance with RERA?
Non-compliance with the RERA requires the builders to pay a daily penalty of up to 5% of the project’s probable value. In the case of the Appellate Tribunal, the penalty is imprisonment for 1 year, or 10% of the project’s probable cost or maybe, even both.
- How to file a complaint to the real estate Tribunal?
Homebuyers can file a complaint under section 44 of the RERA by the “FORM M” to the Appellate Tribunal.
- Is the Act applicable to both Residential and Commercial?
At first, the bill covered only residential projects. On further amendments, it got applicable to commercial projects including shops, offices, and buildings.
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