NEW DELHI | MUMBAI: Lawyer Sahil Sethi has got over 25 calls since Tuesday morning from home buyers wanting to file cases against builders in the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. They too want an order like the one Sethi got in a case he filed against builder Jaypee for delaying its Kalypso Court project in Noida.
The commission asked Jaypee to pay 12% interest for the delay and to complete the project by July 21, failing which it will have to pay Rs 5,000 per day per home as a penalty till it hands over homes to the buyers.
In another order, the commission asked Mumbai-based builder Lodha group to refund Rs 1.02 crore to a buyer with 18% interest. On May 6, the court directed Parsvnath Developers to refund the entire amount paid by around 70 home buyers in its Parsvnath Exotica project in Ghaziabad with 12% interest for failing to complete the apartments on time. Orders like these are changing the way home buyers view their fight against builders.
Last year, the commission had asked builder Unitech to pay a penalty of 12% to home buyers in a project in Gurgaon, and lawyers say it was the trigger for more consumer complaints.
“It is positive that NCDRC is giving enhanced compensation that will not just encourage home buyers to come forward but also act as a deterrent to builders,” said Sethi, a senior associate at law firm Saikrishna & Associates. Sethi is handling four other cases against Jaypee projects before the commission.
Another lawyer Ravinder Singh, who is representing buyers, said enquiries from home buyers have gone up fourfold in the last one year. “Earlier, if we filed a case, it was heard at the NCDRC in 2-3 days but now it takes at least 25-30 days,” said Singh. “These recent orders will now become precedents in future cases. While builders will appeal in the Supreme Court, once the apex court delivers a judgment, it will settle the law on the matter,” he said.
Builders acknowledge there is a problem and there are untoward delays but say that it is not the case across the board. “Most delays are by one year or so. Even if the builder wants to speed up work and finish the project, these kind of litigations will create unnecessary pressure and negativity and further delay completion of the project,” said Getamber Anand, national president of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Associations of India. “All stakeholders should be rational and try to work together to see successful completion of projects that are close to completion,” he said.
Dharmesh Jain, president of developers’ body MCHI-CREDAI, said they have to look at this in a holistic manner. “Delay doesn’t benefit anyone, be it home buyers, developers or even the government. Home buyers, by all means, should approach authorities if there is a case of deliberate delay. But if the reason for such delay is permissions then that also needs to be considered,” he said. “Streamlining of processes and permissions is the final solution for all this in the long term and that will result in significant reduction in such cases.”
According to property research firm Liases Foras, more than half of the real estate projects across the country are delayed by over 12 months. Of this, about 25% are delayed by over 36 months.
“We are seeing more enquiries coming from home buyers to understand their rights and moving courts to get protection and compensation for builders who are taking them for a ride,” he said.
Khare said home buyers are also filing cases for false promises, forfeiture of booking amount, not providing amenities as per the contract and change of project layout without consent. “With RERA coming in to picture, we will see more home buyers taking legal route for their rights and this should be a wakeup call for developers who have been dominating the scene so far,” he added.
In Gurgaon, the Emerald Hills Owners Welfare Association is holding a mass protest against builder Emaar MGF for delaying possession. Many of the buyers have filed cases in the NCDRC and the hearing is ongoing.
Credits ET Realty