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Housing ‘non-cooperation’!

Saturday, September 11, 2010
By Gajanan Khergamker

The problem with cooperative housing societies is that there is little in the way of cooperation happening there. Very often, cooperative housing societies have members who create problems by refusing to pay up dues, and by doing so pose a veritable nuisance to the society.

On an average, about 20 per cent of cooperative housing societies have members playing the part of trouble makers. While the degree of trouble they cause varies, the nature of the scourge is more or less the same. What makes matters worse is that there’s little legal remedy to the problems.

Usually, the troublesome resident refuses to pay up dues; causes hitches in repair jobs; entertains anti-social elements who are usually land-grabbers; files false petitions against fellow members and generally stalls regular functioning of the society. All this, even though there a legal processes to recover dues from an ‘errant’ cooperative housing member or evict him, the society stands to lose.

More often than not, the errant resident besides being rogue is affluent enough to tackle legal problems. Besides, most societies don’t have enough funds to pursue a legal matter to its logical end and leaves the issue unsettled much to the delight of the ‘errant’ member’.

Cooperative housing societies cannot legally force a member to pay up by interfering with his cable/water or power connection, as they would invite adverse legal issues for the society.

In one particular case, a housing member leased out a parking space to an outsider. The outsider went on to convert the space into a garage for repairs of automobiles. The society filed a petition in the cooperative court to evict the non-resident outsider who had caused many problems to the residents by way of hampering parking, right of passage and noise pollution.

After losing the case in the cooperative court, the non-resident appealed to the appellate tribunal and then in the High Court. Simultaneously, during the process, the society members who had initiated proceedings changed and the new society board’s members were less inclined to follow up the case. Owing to a string of favours and bribes by the outsider, most society members were reluctant to evict him. The case was finally lost and the once-illegal garage went on to procure official status.

In order to recover dues or eviction of a non-paying resident, the cooperative housing society files an application before the assistant/deputy registrar of cooperative societies under Section 101 of the Cooperative Societies Act. A judicial order passed is binding on the ‘non-paying’ resident who has the option of appealing to the registrar/joint registrar of cooperative societies.

An appeal to this order can be made to the commissioner at Department of Cooperative Societies, Mantralaya. If the order is to be appealed further, under Article 227 of the Indian Constitution, a writ petition can be filed in the High Court, which then exercises its power of superintendence over subordinate judiciary.

By a special leave to petition, under Article 136 of the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court can be approached for a review of the High Court order.
However, it should be noted that, cash-strapped cooperative housing societies often lose funds in the pursuit of justice while the ‘rogue’ member stands to gain.

More often than not, out-of-court settlements prove to be the best option for cooperative housing societies facing problems with truant residents. Moving the court only involves a lot of expenditure, trouble and time, which isn’t quite feasible for a housing society’s office bearers. Cooperating holds the key to solving issues in cooperative housing societies.

(Queries may be mailed to )

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