On December 9, 2015, when the cabinet committee chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved all the changes recommended by the select committee of the Rajya Sabha in the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2015, property owners had hoped it would be passed by the Rajya Sabha too.
To learn that it wasn’t even listed in Rajya Sabha, when just a few days were left for the winter session to end, has left them utterly disappointed.
With the ruling party locked in various battles with the opposition, the wait for a regulator seems to be getting longer for lakhs of homebuyers in India.
Expressing concern over the delay in enacting a regulatory authority, Lt General (Retd) SK Bahri, chairman of the core council of the federation of apartment owners’ associations and chief mentor of Fight For RERA (real estate regulatory authority) a body formed to battle for a real estate regulator, says, “It’s extremely disappointing to see Parliament paralysed because of which important bills like RERA and GST haven’t been taken up for consideration. However, what appalls me is that the government hasn’t even listed the bill in the Rajya Sabha which makes it obvious that it wouldn’t be taken up for debate in this session. I believe the strong builder lobby is trying to stall it. It’s sad that something which concerns lakhs of people hasn’t been taken seriously by parliamentarians.”
Bahri also felt that it was because of the efforts of the members of Fight For RERA that the cabinet committee had given a green signal to the bill. Various apartment owners’ associations agreed with him, saying that though there were differences among various RWAs over the bill, everyone wanted it to become a reality.
Prakash PVS, resident of a group housing project in Noida, said successful roles played by regulatory bodies in insurance, healthcare, telecom, power, etc make it evident that a regulatory authority played a crucial role in protecting the interests of consumers, promoting fair play in the sector, ensuring timely delivery of promised services, significantly reducing frauds and helping in the speedy adjudication of disputes. The key to success was implementation and enforcement of all provisions of the bill in a transparent way for which proper consumer awareness had to be generated.”
Prakash, who is part of a group fighting a legal battle against a prominent developer felt that a regulatory authority would have made a huge difference in his case.
“First, our biggest problem was siphoning of consumers’ funds by the developer to other projects, leaving our project in limbo due to non-payment of dues to Noida Authority. Our problems were also compounded because of Noida Authority granting a 10-year payment relief to promoters in the form of payment rescheduling. Second, the developer, with the tacit support of authorities, made substantial changes to the originally sanctioned building plans causing financial losses to buyers and delays in possession. Also, though the Uttar Pradesh Apartment Ownership Act came into existence in 2010 to protect the rights of homebuyers, Noida Authority has displayed a complete lack of accountability which has made things worse for buyers like me. In the absence of the regulator we were therefore left with no option but to file writ petitions and consumer complaints,” said Prakash.
Talking about an important feature of regulatory bill, A Rao, said, “When the bill becomes an act it will, retrospectively, cover all projects which haven’t got completion certificates. There are hundreds of such projects in Delhi NCR in which the developer has handed over apartments to homebuyers; even though many of them haven’t got completion certificates. It will definitely protect buyers against property fraud.” Rao is embroiled in fighting a legal case against a builder for encroachment of common areas in his housing block.