Res­i­dents de­mand clar­ity on com­mon ar­eas

Sale of shops in so­ci­eties cre­ates prob­lems

HT Estates - - NEWS - Jee­van Prakash Sharma

More than 500 fam­i­lies, with an av­er­age in­come of R70,000 and liv­ing in a group hous­ing so­ci­ety in Gur­gaon, can’t af­ford to send their chil­dren to the nurs­ery school which charges an ex­or­bi­tant fee of R30,000 a month for each stu­dent. They com­plain that the de­vel­oper who con­structed the colony sold the nurs­ery school site to a high-pro­file ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion which can in no way ac­com­mo­date the chil­dren of 95% of the fam­i­lies re­sid­ing here.

Res­i­dents of an­other group hous­ing so­ci­ety have to travel far to buy gro­ceries be­cause the con­ve­nience shops within the so­ci­ety are be­ing used for godowns, beauty par­lours, gyms, eater­ies etc.

In places like Ghazi­abad, base­ments in so­ci­eties have been sold to peo­ple who are run­ning small restau­rants which can pose a se­ri­ous fire risk for the res­i­dents liv­ing on the up­per floors.

Com­mon area own­er­ship has be­come a ma­jor bone of con­tention be­tween res­i­dents and real es­tate de­vel­op­ers in al­most ev­ery group hous­ing so­ci­ety across the coun­try.

“In the first case if the nurs­ery school was handed over to the res­i­dents’ wel­fare as­so­ci­a­tions (RWAs), they would have leased it out to an ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion which would have charged a rea­son­able fee that was within their bud­get. Send­ing out kids to dis­tant schools can pose se­ri­ous prob­lems re­lated to their safety, it could lead to traf­fic con­ges­tion, wastage of fuel etc. Sim­i­lar prob­lems arise when dozens of buses en­ter the colony gates car­ry­ing chil­drens from far-flung ar­eas,” says Anil Sharma, an RWA of­fi­cial of a group hous­ing so­ci­ety in Gur­gaon. Sharma’s so­ci­ety is fight­ing a sim­i­lar case against the de­vel­oper in Pun­jab and Haryana High Court.

About the sec­ond case in­volv­ing gro­cery stores, Sharma adds, “The res­i­dents could have ben­e­fited from the RWA leas­ing out shops to peo­ple sell­ing gro­ceries and not us­ing the space for godowns and par­lours.”

In­stances of de­vel­op­ers not con­sult­ing RWAs be­fore sell­ing the shops to third par­ties are com­mon. “The de­vel­op­ers think that once they move out th­ese par­ties will con­tinue to fight among each other. They are least both­ered about the res­i­dents’ wel­fare,” he says.

Res­i­dents’ or­gan­i­sa­tions point out to two prob­lems that RWAs face. “One is that de­spite the law clearly stat­ing that builders hand over the com­mon ar­eas such as stairs, lifts, lob­bies, park­ing etc to the RWAs, they are not do­ing so be­cause they col­lect money from the res­i­dents from that and earn prof­its on it. It’s a clear cut vi­o­la­tion and there is no am­bi­gu­ity in the law but, sadly, de­vel­op­ment au­thor­i­ties fail to act against them,” says Ashish Kaul, a res­i­dent of Gur­gaon.

The other prob­lem could be sim­i­lar to the one in Sil­ver Oaks (see page 1 story) so­ci­ety where de­vel­op­ers de­clare stairs, lifts, lob­bies, park­ing etc as com­mon ar­eas and fa­cil­i­ties but claim own­er­ship of nurs­ery schools, shops and com­mu­nity cen­tre. There is an ur­gent need to ad­dress th­ese is­sues be­cause mil­lions of fam­i­lies are af­fected all over the coun­try be­cause of such cases, Kaul adds

Many res­i­dents de­mand the re­spec­tive state gov­ern­ments to re­move am­bi­gu­ity in the apart­ment own­er­ship acts and make it clear that what­ever is be­ing con­structed in a township or a group hous­ing so­ci­ety must be cat­e­gorised as apart­ment, com­mon ar­eas and fa­cil­i­ties and re­stricted com­mon ar­eas and fa­cil­i­ties.

Even the Pun­jab and Haryana High Court, while de­liv­er­ing a well-rea­soned ver­dict in favour of the Sil­ver Oaks res­i­dents, held that “In view of short­age of land in ur­ban ar­eas, con­cept of apart­ments has been evolved. Town Plan­ning laws re­quire de­vel­op­ment of apart­ments in ac­cor­dance with a plan and the apart­ment laws apart from mak­ing apart­ment her­i­ta­ble and trans­fer­able, pro­vide safe­guards for the apart­ment owners for their shared use of com­mon area. If shared use is not al­lowed, the con­cept of apart­ment may not be work- able as per­sons liv­ing on dif­fer­ent floors re­quire cer­tain ser­vices in the com­plex it­self.”

“Those who buy apart­ments in a so­ci­ety are also at­tracted by the ser­vices avail­able in a com­plex and are di­rectly or in­di­rectly made to pay for such ser­vices. It is not the in­ten­tion of the leg­is­la­ture that the de­vel­oper as­sumes ab­so­lute power of declar­ing or not declar­ing ar­eas, nor­mally in com­mon use, to be com­mon ar­eas,” said the Pun­jab and Haryana High Court had said in its judg­ment on the Sil­ver Oaks case, up­hold­ing the rights of the RWA over com­mon ares.

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