Who stole your space?

There would be no car­pet ver­sus su­per area dis­putes if the de­vel­op­ers, as per law, were forced to dis­close plans for their projects to au­thor­i­ties and home­buy­ers

HT Estates - - NEWS - Jee­van Prakash Sharma

Is there se­ri­ous lack of real es­tate reg­u­la­tion in In­dia? While an­swer­ing a sim­i­lar ques­tion in its in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port on the Be­laire Owner’s As­so­ci­a­tion vs DLF Limited, the then direc­tor gen­eral of the Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sion of In­dia, had writ­ten, “It is no­ticed that al­though there are a plethora of laws, the im­ple­men­ta­tion has been rather slack.”

“The way con­struc­tion has com­menced with­out prior ap­proval from the town plan­ning depart­ment only goes on to sug­gest that there is some­thing amiss in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of laws,” he had added, re­fer­ring to one of the cases of vi­o­la­tions.

Build­ing byelaws, ur­ban ar­eas reg­u­la­tion acts, apart­ment acts and other pub­lic poli­cies of var­i­ous states sug­gest that al­most ev­ery as­pect of real es­tate has been leg­is­lated in the in­ter­est of a buyer, but de­vel­op­ment au­thor­i­ties have been con­stantly over­look­ing them. De­vel­op­ers, as a re­sult, had gained from it.

Take the case of Delhi. De­spite be­ing a planned city, two-thirds of its pop­u­la­tion ex­ists in il­le­gal res­i­den­tial colonies, unau­throrised in­dus­trial ar­eas, ur­ban and ru­ral vil­lages, jhuggi clus­ters, re­set­tle­ment colonies, slum ar­eas and, night shel­ters etc.

The Delhi De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (DDA), Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion of Delhi and the New Delhi Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cil have enough pow­ers to con­trol the il­le­gal con­struc­tion and unau­tho­rised il­le­gal ex­pan­sion.

How­ever, though laws to pro­hibit use of agri­cul­tural land for res­i­den­tial pur­poses exit, vi­o­la­tions are ram­pant. “It is be­cause of corruption that the ex­ist­ing laws are be­ing openly dis­re­garded,” says MN Buch, noted ex­pert on ur­ban de­vel­op­ment and for­mer vice chair­man, DDA.

Even in other NCR ar­eas such as Gur­gaon, Farid­abad, Noida and Ghazi­abad where real es­tate ac­tiv­i­ties have come of age with ready-to­move-in, un­der-con­struc­tion mul­ti­storey apart­ments, in­te­grated town­ships and group hous­ing so­ci­eties, de­vel­op­ment au­thor­i­ties have com­pletely failed to en­force the statu­tory pro­vi­sions.

Al­most all the apart­ment acts have cer­tain key com­mon fea­tures which, if im­ple­mented in toto, will put an end to the pro­longed agony of buy­ers who have to wait for years for de­liv­ery of apart­ments even af­ter they’ve in­vested all their sav­ings in it. As per law, a real es­tate de­vel­oper should make a full and true dis­clo­sure in writ­ing to the con­cerned com­pe­tent au­thor­ity about his in­ten­tions to pur­chase land, his rights to the ti­tle to the land, all en­cum­brances, plans and spec­i­fi­ca­tions, de­tails of com­mon ar­eas etc.

“When you pay the book­ing amount for a flat, the de­vel­oper will only give you the spec­i­fi­ca­tions of the flat that you have bought and not re­veal the overal con­struc­tion plans for the project. He de­lib­er­ately vi­o­lates this pro­vi­sion be­cause if he gives you his con­struc­tion plan in writ­ing, he will not be able to al­ter it and con­vert com­mon ar­eas into apart­ments. If this le­gal pro­vi­sion is en­forced strictly, there will not be any real es­tate dis­putes re­lated to su­per area and com­mon area vi­o­la­tions as buy­ers will be aware of the ex­act size of their dwelling units,” says Man­ish Gupta, a pe­ti­tioner in a case re­lated to floor area vi­o­la­tion in the Al­la­habad High Court.

Dup­ing peo­ple of ex­tra space by way of su­per and cov­ered ar­eas in a dwelling is one of the big­gest scams in real es­tate, says Gupta. A de­vel­oper has the sanc­tion to build units of a spec­i­fied size. If he sells you 1700 sq ft area, he is ac­tu­ally has the sanc­tion to build your apart­ment on just 1200 sq ft. “The sale of 500 sq ft su­per area to a con­sumer is cheat­ing,” Gupta adds.

Nev­er­the­less, the pro­vi­sion of deed of dec­la­ra­tion is also ma­nip­u­lated by builders. Af­ter a de­vel­oper makes a true dis­clo­sure of his plans and spec­i­fi­ca­tions and con­structs the apart­ment ac­cord­ingly, he should legally give a deed of dec­la­ra­tion to the buy­ers, de­vel­op­ment and reg­is­ter­ing au­thor­i­ties.

In Gur­gaon, 99% of deeds of dec­la­ra­tion are al­legedly fudged. De­vel­op­ers don’t dis­close full de­tails of what they in­tend to con­struct to the de­vel­op­ment au­thor­i­ties, buy­ers and the reg­is­ter­ing au­thor­i­ties. The story is re­peated in Noida and Ghaiz­abad, de­spite the pro­vi­sions of deed of dec­la­ra­tion.

Deed of apart­ment, an­other com­mon fea­ture of all apart­ment acts, makes it manda­tory for a real es­tate de­vel­oper to give de­tails of the com­mon area, fa­cil­i­ties and all ameni­ties along with the ex­clu­sive dwelling area. It’s a reg­is­tered in­stru­ment like a sale deed, which gives a per­son rights over not only his apart­ment but on com­mon un­di­vided ar­eas as well. That, too, in most cases is ei­ther ma­nip­u­lated or not ex­e­cuted.

Many apart­ment dwellers may not be aware of the fact that a de­vel­oper prefers to con­trol maintenance of com­mon ar­eas and fa­cil­i­ties be­cause he has a profit to make out of it. Apart­ment laws stip­u­late that af­ter get­ting a com­ple­tion cer­tifi­cate a de­vel­oper will con­vey all his rights in the apart­ments to the res­i­dent wel­fare as­so­ci­a­tion of the project and move out. Many de­vel­op­ers don’t do that.

“So far since 1981 when the first li­cense was is­sued to DLF for a township in Gur­gaon, 22,000 acres have gone to pri­vate builders for de­vel­op­ing in­te­grated town­ships and group hous­ing. In the last 31 years, gov­ern­ment au­thor­i­ties have is­sued 3943 li­censes to many de­vel­op­ers for group hous­ing and in­te­grated town­ships, but none of them have taken the com­ple­tion cer­tifi­cate for the whole project. They get part com­ple­tion cer­tifi­cates of tow­ers and keep the oth­ers ar­eas free for fu­ture de­vel­op­ment,” says Vi­nay Mi­tra, a res­i­dent of one of the apart­ments.


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