29-8-06

RERA – By Your Side in Rain and Sunshine

Mr. Gautam Chatterjee, the chairman of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority of Maharashtra, was not able to be part of the Rotary meeting due to the heavy rains. Therefore, Rtn. Anil Harish gave the audience a thorough roadmap of the direction in which Mr. Chatterjee wants to drive the much-awaited Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act.

Mr. Chatterjee, an authority in urban housing, played a vital role in framing the housing rules that RERA – the only other act to be implemented after the Maharashtra Real Estate Act of 1963 – aims to uphold. The history and true nature of the real estate market is a narrative that is best heard from those who have lived through the gap of 54 years that separate the two real estate acts.

Rtn. Anil Harish most certainly met the criteria, with the added advantage of being an engaging speaker. He took us back to the late 70s, when a square foot of property cost all of hundred rupees at Nariman Point. By 1986, the same property settled at 2,000 rupees per square foot, and in 1996, it further skyrocketed to 50,000 rupees per square foot.

Since prices were so high, one can imagine the malpractices that seeped into the demand and supply chain. While the Maharashtra Real Estate Act of 1963 only prescribed requirements that were to be met by builders, there wasno regulator to enforce those requirements. At times, when the matter got out of hand, the victims went to court but, of course, “the courts were completely clogged.”

The saving grace in this case was the Maharashtra Regulation and Development Act, which was repealed owing to the central government’s decision to have a common law that is applicable to the entire country. Thus, on the 1st of May, RERA came to be. It entails three main parties: the project, the consumer, and the estate agent.

The project: “A new project can only be registered once the builder has got all the approvals.” Earlier, there were many instances of builders turning the increased demand for property in their favour by selling property that existed only on paper.

The estate agent has also been brought to question, by making it mandatory for the latter to be registered if they are to market a property that is still under construction.

Lastly, while the consumer has been safeguarded against various malpractices, he too can be held responsible for not making timely payments to the concerned parties.

When the law was introduced, the authorities defined “projects” as ongoing projects and projects still to see the light of day. This meant that ongoing projects, or projects that were already underway before the Act was passed, had to be registered by the 31st of July. The Act’s precision, however, comes through in the finer details: It is mandatory for builders registering their property to clearly define “the latitude and longitude of the entire boundary of the plot.”

Registering the property is only half the battle won; if the builder is not able to deliver the project by the date that has been registered with regulation authority, “then he can apply for an extension, which may or may not be granted.” If his extension is not granted, “he is just not going to be allowed to sell after that.” In certain cases, a penalty is charged, which can go up to 10% of the project’s cost.

When a developer receives an installment from a purchaser, he may use 30% of that money but 70% must go into a designated account. If the need arises, he can use the 50% of the remaining 70% after getting a certificate from an architect, chartered accountant, and engineer. “They will certify the amount of work completed up to that date, and state the need to withdraw.”

More importantly, giving Mr. Gautam Chatterjee his due, Rtn. Anil Harish was glad to inform us about a miscreant who was brought to justice in a matter of 36 days for not complying with the new regulations. The result: Over 4000 projects have been registered with the regulation authority, allowing for an easy perusal of all their details online.

Obviously, the dias was not open for any questions because the guest speaker was absent, but also because, as Rtn. Anil Harish affirmed, Mr. Gautam Chatterjee and his team are always open to answering questions related to RERA through the website, hinting at the fact that the absentee was never really absent.

Ask your RERA-related questions here: https://maharera.mahaonline.gov.in/

Rtn. Framroze Mehta reported on the Progress of the Women Empowerment Committee, the positive outcomes of the collaborations fostered by the Women’s Empowerment committee in its two and a half year existence.

The tie-up with the International Women’s Association (IWA) has resulted in a new radiology department at the IWA clinic situated in Fort. The X-Ray machine for the same was donated by Rtn. Shahnaz Vakil.

By working closely with the Umerkhadi remand home, the Women’s Empowerment Committee has been able to provide 350 mattresses for the children – many below the age of 18 – and a library of 180 books, donated by Rtn. Bimal Mehta.

The committee’s association with the IWA has also resulted in the organisation of medical camps for 120 students at the Garden School.

Lastly, Rtn. Framroze Mehta also threw light on his committee’s initiative of gender sensitising the underprivileged youth, with the help of Rotaractors who have been trained by an NGO called Laadli.