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
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.