What does ‘super area’ mean?
It’s just a strategy for builders to make money, say development authorities
Real estate experts, RWA members and legal experts agree that ‘super area’ is a not a technical term and is something of a marketing strategy for builders to make money.
When Ashish Kaul, resident of a housing project in Faridabad, asked for a definition of the super area in an RTI, the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) responded with “as per the record of this office, there is no definition regarding the common area and super area.”
Other development authorities, too, came up with a similar response. A senior Ghaziabad Development Authority officer said, “Super area is not a technical term but a marketing gimmick. No development authorities have ever defined what super area is and how it can be calculated.”
“It’s quite difficult to work out a formula for super area calculation because every developer has his own way of working on a project. Some will prefer to make balconies, corridors and other common areas more spacious while the others might not. Calculation of super and covered area for each project will be different. It’s true, however, that developers make a lot of money by manipulating built-up area measurements.”
Legal experts, too, agree that it’s very difficult for any development authority to define super area. “The reason probably is that it is impossible to standardise super area and it is equally difficult to quantify the loading percentage through a transparent formula. Usually municipal authorities provide FSI/FAR on the basis of well-defined built-up areas. But consumer/buyers or endusers relate best with carpet area because it gives them the right sense of space available for use,” says Supreme Court lawyer SK Pal.
Many RWA officials allege that the process of calculating super area is not transparent and measurements usually exceed the actual total builtup area in a group housing project. A buyer is not just cheated, he has to pay a steep stamp duty for registration and maintenance and calculations are done on the basis of super area.
“You pay stamp duty for the registration of your flat on super area. You pay EDC and IDC on super area and you pay maintenance amount for your whole of life on the basis of super area vaguely calculated as total area of your flat. Perhaps that’s the reason even the development authorities in various states are silent because they know that super area brings huge revenues to the state exchequer too,” says a home buyer.
A Noida revenue department’s circular clearly reads that stamp duty for registration of a flat of a group housing society will be calculated on the basis of super area of a flat. The circular also states that super area is the sum of the covered area and the builtup area.
Says Pal, “Stamp duties in most states are calculated on the basis on built-up area. Super area cannot be the basis for calculating stamp duty.”
“Asking for maintenance on super area basis is erroneous. Maintenance (popularly referred to as CAM) is the expenditure on maintenance of common areas and facilities in the project as such and it should be based on the share of common areas and facilities with other apartments,” he adds.
On why buyers were not fighting for scrapping of super area costs, Umesh Prabhakar, a home buyer in Faridabad said, “First of all, home buyers don’t go so much into details to dig it out the exact size of their apartment. Secondly, in many cases developers inform them about the increase in the size of the flat either mid way through construction or at the time of possession. By that time the prices have escalated so much that the home owners don’t mind paying the extra money. Some of them have filed petitions but those are pending.”
India is the only country where flats are sold on the basis of super area.
Says Amit Jain, director general, Federation of Apartment Owners Association, “Builders are only authorised to sell apart- ments ie the main dwelling units and charges for the common area and facilities are factored in the price of the apartment itself.”
“This is a world-wide practice and followed by every builder in the world except our own Indian builders. Rights of every individual apartment owner gets crystallised through a declaration called Deed of Declaration which is a statutory document prescribed under the Haryana Apartment Ownership Act. The same document is known as ‘Enabling Declaration’ or ‘Condominium Declaration of Conditions’ in the US or ‘Master Deed’ in the UK. The Haryana Apartment Ownership Act or the Apartment Ownership Act of almost every state is a verbatim copy of US Apartment Ownership Act,” adds Jain.