The Maharashtra government has incorporated an anti-discriminatory clause in the rules under the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA) to provide recourse to prospective buyers who are denied a house by builders owing to their caste, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, dietary choices or any such factor.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis approved the rules Tuesday. The move comes in the wake of several cases in the state, especially in Mumbai, where builders have refused to sell apartments based on a buyer’s religion, marital status or dietary preferences.
The draft rules for implementation of the law governing real estate, which were notified by the state government in the run-up to the elections, has now been finalised and will come into effect by next week.
Under the new rules, approved parking spaces (covered) can now be sold. In a bid to regulate these sales, the government has mandated that developers must formally disclose details of this sale. The government has also permitted builders to even demarcate such parking spaces as ‘sold’. Prevailing rules grant cooperative housing societies powers to distribute parking space among members.
In December 2016, Maharashtra became the country’s seventh state to notify draft rules for the implementation of RERA. Though the Centre, which passed the Act last year, had given all states and union territories a deadline of October 31, only Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Chandigarh, Karnataka and Maharashtra had notified their state-specific rules then.
Some of the clauses that were excluded in the earlier draft have now been included. These clauses include a provision requiring developers to make public on the proposed housing regulator’s website disclosures pertaining to building approvals obtained. Another provision requires the developers to make similar disclosures regarding their past track record of project delivery.
A key provision that the state’s draft rules mandate is that the developers must make disclosures regarding the marketability of the title of the land, which is not mentioned in the Centre’s draft. “This rule will save the common man from examining voluminous documents pertaining to the title of the land,” said a senior official.
Further, for filing a complaint with the housing authority, a flat buyer or a complainant will have to pay a fee of Rs 5,000.
The amount initially fixed was Rs 10,000, while state officials argued that this would deter frivolous complaints, questions were raised over this restriction imposed on an aggrieved flat buyer. Following opposition, the complaint fee was reduced to half. This fee fixed in the Centre’s draft is just Rs 1,000. While the registration fees for brokers/real estate agents have been slashed, the same has been increased for builders/developers.
Meanwhile, the new Act will restrict the practice of selling a flat to the customer without having put a building slab or without obtaining a commencement certificate (CC) for a housing project. “The Act disallows selling or advertising a flat sale before the commencement certificate is in place. All advertisements done even after obtaining a CC will have to be done with a proper registration number,” said an official.
Also, while the rules aim to safeguard interests of flat buyers, the government has also retained a provision that allows developers to cancel a sale agreement with a buyer if the latter is found to have dishonoured any of the terms and conditions under the agreement. “A builder can cancel a sale agreement if a buyer defaults three times,” said the official.