Blow to Housing Societies: Rera won’t hear Redevelopment Disputes


MUMBAI: Housing Society Members who have a dispute with their builder over Redevelopments cannot seek relief under the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (Rera).

The state Rera last month dismissed a complaint filed by members of a Vikhroli housing society against their builder for failing to hand over their new flats for 11 years. They also accused the society’s managing committee of granting permission to the builder to add five floors without their approval.

In a December 2017 order, MahaRera chairperson Gautam Chatterjee said the authority is not the proper forum to resolve the society’s issue with the builder. The order has wide implications because over 85% of all constructions in Mumbai involves redevelopments. Housing experts warned that thousands of families stranded for years because their redevelopment projects are stuck cannot take recourse under Rera.

“The complainants have not been able to point out any contravention or violation of the provisions of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 or the rules or regulations,” said the order.

Members of the Shanti Niketan cooperative housing society in Vikhroli (East) filed a complaint against Matrix Construction. “On May 10, 2007, we assigned our project ‘Shanti Niketan’ for redevelopment. But till date, we haven’t received possession of our flats although the building is ready,” they said.

The 13-storey redeveloped building is ready, but the builder wants to add five more floors. The society said it would allow him to build more on the condition that he shares 25% of the profits from the sale of flats. Another condition was that the builder would hand over their new flats by June 2017 and give them a corpus of Rs 9 lakh per member. The developer was also to give them open car parking free of cost. “On fulfillment of these pre-conditions, members agreed to give their NOC to construct five additional floors. However, the society’s managing committee manipulated the minutes and gave NOC to the developer without listing these conditions and prior approval of society members,” said the complaint.

The complainants said they discovered it only when they approached Mhada, which told them the builder had already procured the NOC without these conditions. However, the MahaRera order said the dispute is between society members, the managing committee (landowner) and the builder, and this did not contravene Rera provisions. A senior Rera official said the dispute between society members and the society has to be resolved under Cooperative Society Act while a dispute between the society and builder is a civil dispute. “In a MahaRera registered project, an aggrieved party will have to point out which provision of Rera Act has been violated,” he said.

Activist Dharam Shettigar, who has brought many housing societies in Kannamwar Nagar, Vikhroli, on a common platform, said: “This is a glaring lacunae in Rera. Dubious developers will exploit this loophole even as society members continue to suffer.”

Added housing activist Chandrashekhar Prabhu: “Any law which does not protect rights of such people would be considered useless. Either the government brings the necessary changes to Rera or admits that it is of no use to an overwhelming majority of residents.” He added that the Act must be “suitably amended” to protect the interests of those who are seeking to move to accommodation with better amenities.

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