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Beware of that amenities offer, it could be a farce

Saturday, April 28, 2012
By Gajanan Khergamker

When you’re going in for a realty purchase, chances are you’ll take the developer’s brochure or website seriously and equally seriously his claims to provide amenities that are worldclass and simply the best.

Assuring you of swimming pools, shopping options, gymnasiums, malls and all could well be just an eyewash. Considering the spate of ripoffs that are being reported left, right and centre, it makes sense to take the tall claims of amenities with a pinch of salt and keep yourself covered of contingencies wherein there is non-performance and concurrent  procedure for redress.

More often than not, known developers deliver whatever has been promised during the stage of construction with the exception of a few ‘luxuries’ that are safely compromised upon. There are, however, several occasions when a few shady developers fail to deliver some very basic amenities to buyers despite promising the same.

“None of the better-known developers or those with standing in the industry would stoop to such levels to make that extra buck,” says real estate agent Rajesh Sawant who steers clear of striking deals for ‘unknown’ developers for this very reason. “After all, this industry operates on the image of the group and no known developer would ever jeopardize his image by shortchanging a few clients,” he says.

“Considering the surge in new entrants in this industry which is rather fluid in nature, there are scores of phony ‘developers’ operating in New Bombay and Central suburbs earning their keep through such means,” admits Rajesh.

Legally getting an errant developer to cough up damages or elbow him into delivery could be a hair-splitting procedure. “Hundreds of fly-by-night ‘builders’ – capitalizing on the real estate boom – opt to swindle unassuming home-seekers who’re left with little option but to twiddle their thumbs when duped,” says civil and criminal lawyer Ratna Malkani.

“Home-buyers biggest issue is water,” says civil lawyer C. K. Desai. “On completion of the building, developers are supposed to apply for an occupancy certificate after which the flat-owners can obtain water from the civic authorities,” he says. Sadly, that never happens and home-owners are left with little option but to cough up huge amounts of money for water fetched through tankers or through the BMC at higher prices.

“By the law, within six months of completion of a minimum of 12 flats, the builder has to form a society. He is also bound by the Maharashtra Flat Owners’ Act to convey the property in the name of the society. Some builders fail to do this, leaving buyers in a lurch,” adds Desai.

“When a person finally takes possession of his dream-home, he’s left saddled with a home-loan he needs to repay compounded with interest,” says Desai. “When faced with an issue that arises out of the developer’s inability to deliver, he’s less inclined to move court for fiscal reasons, and opts to find a way around it instead,” he adds.

“A home-owner has the option of either approaching a co-operative court, civil court or criminal court in case of any transgression by the builder,” says Mr Desai. “If the building hasn’t been registered as a co-operative society, he’d have to approach a criminal court and file a suit under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code for cheating against the builder,” he maintains.

Sadly, since more often than not, legal procedures are lengthy and can cost a fortune; most home-owners prefer to avoid moving court and instead opt for a settlement. “For most regular middle-class home-seekers, the biggest fear is being duped out of possession after paying up your initial deposit,” says Ms Malkani.

“Unfortunately, once assured that the builder is reputed and known to deliver, he isn’t distrusted. It’s when you take undue care over trivia that you fail to see the fine print in sale deeds that, in time, land you in a lurch,” she says.

Very often, most ‘luxury’ amenities offered by developers come with riders that are cleverly concealed. “Legally, most home-owners don’t stand a chance of pulling up shady builders who’re adept at the business and leave little that can hold good against them in a court of law,” says Mr Desai.

 

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