Redevelopment: Mumbai builders fake tenant names to misuse FSI

MUMBAI: Ever wondered how two or three-storey buildings in congested localities are redeveloped into 40-storey skyscrapers in the island city?

Several builders redeveloping old and dilapidated buildings are allegedly misusing floor space index (FSI) by showing bogus tenants so that they can build higher, said a report prepared by city NGO Janhit Manch and submitted to the chief minister recently .

The report confirms what has long been common knowledge; builders inflate the list of tenants to be rehabilitated free of cost in new buildings. The higher the number of tenants, the more FSI the builders get.

“There is no question of bogus tenancies. The voter list, rent receipts and other documents are verified before the tenants’ list is prepared,” Mhada CEO Sambhaji Zende-Patil told media. The cross-subsidy scheme was introduced when Sena’s Manohar Joshi was CM in the mid-1990s. Builders get 50% extra construction incentive for tenants they must rehouse. The scheme is implemented by Mhada. “Newly created bogus tenants are allotted premises only on paper to comply with the Mhada NOC. These tenants never get physical possession of any premises.The premises are actually sold to outsiders at market rate,” said Janhit Manch, which has filed PILs against illegal constructions in skyscrapers.

In Malabar Hill and Nepean Sea Road, many such buildings have been constructed and are now occupied by the super-rich.“More apartments for sale in the market are achieved by creating non-existent and fictitious occupants,” it said. Zende-Patil said Mhada is generally confronted with “ownership disputes” within families living in tenanted properties. “But if concrete cases of bogus tenancies are shown to us, we will check,” he said.

“We have been fighting against these irregularities since 15-20 years. It is rampant and authorities do not act because they are hand-in-glove with the builders,” said housing activist Chandrashekhar Prabhu. “It’s a major scam. Bonafide tenants are ousted from their tenements by builders,” said Utsal Karani of Janhit Manch.

“After ousting the original tenants, developers transfer tenancies to entities controlled by them. Thereafter, a proposal for redevelopment is submitted to “rehabilitate“ these bogus tenants or corporate entities to get more FSI,” he said. “None of the newly created tenants or entities ever occupied the old buildings nor will they occupy the new towers.The luxury flats will be sold to the super-rich,” said Karani.

Janhit Manch investigated several redevelopment projects in south Mumbai and claims to have found bogus tenants. At Hughes Road (Sitaram Patkar Marg), the new owners bought the building as a vacant building as all the tenants had surrendered and vacated the premises (along with their tenancy rights). The building is thus no longer a cessed property and is not eligible for incentive FSI.

“Any list of so called old occupants furnished by the present owner (who at the most could be only newly made tenants just to make up a list of tenants) has to be necessarily bogus as far as incentive FSI is concerned,” said the report. The builder is constructing a 32-storeyed ultra-luxury tower.

At Nepean Sea Road, a developer (who is currently in jail) bought over all the tenanted premises through corporate entities, said the NGO. The property was governed by and subject to the provisions of Maharashtra Apartment Ownership Act, 1970, and not a cessed property, it said. In the same area, the same builder obtained Mhada NOC for another property by giving a list of bogus tenants.

Credits ET Realty

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