RITESH Jain (name changed on request) had booked a 2BHK flat in an ongoing project of a prominent builder in Kharadi in 2014. Two years later, he is yet to get possession of his flat. “The agreement that I had signed with the builder had said I would get possession by the end of 2015. The builder keeps on assuring me that I will get the flat soon, but that soon seems to be far away,” he says.
Jain, who is paying a hefty house rent, is now thinking of taking legal measures against the builder.
Jain’s predicament reflects the situation faced by lakhs of people in the city who are made to run from pillar to post to get possession of their promised flats despite making payments on time.
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Consider this: in the last six years, the Pune District Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum (DCGRF) saw 2,943 cases being filed, of which 1,815 related to the housing sector. This year, of the 306 cases filed with the forum so far, 242 related to the housing sector.
A simple analysis of the figures shows that complaints related to the real estate sector constitute almost 80 per cent of the complaints filed both with the state and the National DCGRF in the country.
While Pune’s real estate market is known for positive growth bucking the countrywide trend, problems, especially from the consumer side, have also seen a quantum jump. Delay in giving possession of tenements, failure to provide amenities and preventing formation of residents’ welfare society are some of the common complaints from consumers.
The figures from the consumer forum, activists say, do not even represent one per cent of the whole problem. Vijay Sagar, member of the All India Grahak Panchayat, a consumer rights body, says that in Pune alone, there are more than 4,000 housing projects affecting more than the 4 lakh flat buyers. “As per the development control rules of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), each flat can house five persons. So more than 20 lakh people are affected in such cases,” he says.
Sagar says that over the last five years, his organisation has seen a steep rise in consumers approaching them to seek redressal about their grievances.
“Contrary to popular belief, such problems have now also cropped up with super luxury projects. Recently, we were approached by a group of 150 flat buyers from Kharadi who are yet to get possession of their flats two years after the promised delivery time,” he says. The average cost of the flats, Sagar says, is around Rs 1.5 crore.
Based on the complaints received by them and on a Google survey, the Pune Grahak Panchayat had recently identified 40 projects in and around Pune which are plagued by problems. Delay in possession, increased cost of tenements, sale of parking spaces are some of the complaints that the flat buyers have against the builders of these projects. The list, Sagar said, represented over 1. 55 lakh flat buyers. “This list was sent to BJP MP Kirit Somaiya who had now taken up the matter with the Enforcement Directorate and the Anti-Corruption Bureau,” he said.
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One of the major reasons for the consumers woes, according to property consultant Ravi Karandeekar, is the inaction by the authorities concerned. In many cases, Karandeekar says, the police refused to file complaints on behalf of the consumers.
Tips for flat buyers
1) In case of delay, form a committee which will take to legal recourse.
2) Instead of individual cases, it makes better sense to file as a group in the consumer forums
3) Due diligence of projects should be done before investment
4) Check the permissions issued to the project and the sanctioned floors
5) Consumer forums can be approached without the help of a lawyer also
“Before investing in any property, the consumer must check the credentials of the builders. Also, it is advisable to visit the site and see the pace of work during the course of construction. Consumers should not go by discounts but should do their homework properly. As a relator body, we only allow people who have completed their first project and have got occupancy certificates. The Real Estate Regulatory Bill, we hope, will clean up the sector.”
Rohit Gera, Vice President, Pune, Credai