Attach builder’s property to recover transit rent: Bombay HC

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court has directed Mhada to initiate action against a city builder, including attaching his properties, to recover the transit rent which he failed to pay residents of a Dadar building that was taken up for redevelopment. The court’s action is a strong message to builders whose projects are stalled. In May 2016, TOI had reported there were about 500 such tenants in Dadar alone who are stranded after developers stopped paying rent for their alternative accommodation.

“We direct Mhada to initiate such action as is permissible in law, including attaching the movable and immovable properties of the developer so as to recover the outstanding amount towards the transit rent,” said a division bench of Justice Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Justice Burgess Colabawalla. “All the arrears in relation thereto shall be appropriated and adjusted and thereafter paid over to the eligible tenants/occupants,” the HC said. The court said Mhada could take assistance of the collector of Mumbai city to recover the money from the developer as land arrears. The process has to be completed within eight weeks.

The court was hearing an application filed by Sameer Patil, seeking directions to Shree Swami Samarth Builders to pay him rent arrears of over Rs 8.24 lakh. The plea also urged the court to order the developer to pay him Rs 24,900 per month from February 2016 as rent for alternate accommodation. Patil was a resident of Samarth Krupa—two cessed buildings located on a prime plot at the junction of Gokhale Road and Ranade Road in Dadar (West). Around 73 tenants, including 16 shop owners of the two buildings had agreed to the redevelopment. The authorities issued a commencement certificate for a ground-plus-10-storey building in 2010. According to advocate Sandeep Bane, counsel for the petitioner, the builder failed to complete construction in time and also did not pay the rent for alternative transit accommodation to the tenants. Patil said he was incurring huge expenses for his transit accommodation.

Advocate Girish Utangale, counsel for Mhada, submitted the report of a site visit which revealed the developer had constructed ground-plus-nine floors, but construction activity had completely come to a halt in 2014. Some shops were operating without an occupation certificate. Utangale also informed the HC that if all the tenants came together and requested the authority, Mhada was willing to acquire the property and complete the construction. The HC has scheduled further hearing of the case on January 13, 2017 and sought a compliance report of its orders.

Credits ET Realty

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