In a fix over FITOUTS

De­vel­op­ers are of­fer­ing de­liv­ery to home­buy­ers just for fitouts in under-con­struc­tion, un­safe projects, putting their lives and limbs at risk

HT Estates - - FRONT PAGE - Jee­van Prakash Sharma

Akash Gupta ( name changed) was des­per­ate. After a wait of five years for the de­liv­ery of his apart­ment, he had threat­ened to drag his developer to court and had been of­fered an op­tion that he thought was too tempt­ing to re­sist. The developer cited re­ces­sion as the rea­son why he had no funds avail­able to com­plete some tow­ers of the pro­ject and get a com­ple­tion cer­tifi­cate or even a par­tial com­ple­tion from the de­vel­op­ment author­ity. When told that Gupta was find­ing it dif­fi­cult to pay his EMIs and rent, the developer said he had a so­lu­tion. Gupta was ad­vised to give an un­der­tak­ing that he would take in­ter­nal pos­ses­sion of his apart­ment for get­ting some in­ter­nal fit­ting work done. He was also made to com­mit that in case of any mishaps in the under-con­struc­tion pro­ject, the developer would not be li­able for it.

Gupta took up the of­fer. ‘’I didn’t want to go in for le­gal ac­tion as I did not have the money or the time for it. I had to take pos­ses­sion under the con­di­tions laid down by the developer. Now the prob­lem is that in the whole town­ship, out of 200 tow­ers, just a hand­ful of peo­ple have taken pos­ses­sion with­out ac­cess to any fa­cil­i­ties.”

Gupta’s build­ing block is sur­rounded by tow­ers with on­go­ing con­struc­tion work, be­cause of which se­vere air pol­lu­tion and safety and se­cu­rity of the res­i­dents have be­come ma­jor issues. Com­mon ar­eas, too, aren’t ready and wa­ter­log­ging has led to huge prob­lems of mos­qui­toes and a foul stench. ‘’My chil­dren can’t go out to play in the open as the under-con­struc­tion tow­ers pose a se­ri­ous threat to their safety. Even a small brick can prove fa­tal, so the chil­dren are con­fined in­doors. Peo­ple who have taken up the developer’s of­fer feel help­less as they have no op­tion avail­able,’’ says Gupta.

Gupta’s pro­ject is not an iso­lated case. Many home­buy­ers who have moved into un­der­con­struc­tion projects say their de­vel­op­ers have forced them to sign doc­u­ments with clauses ab­solv­ing them (de­vel­op­ers) of their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in case of dam­age or in­juries.

Says a Noida- based real es­tate developer on con­di­tion of anonymity, “There are two main issues why we have to give pos­ses­sion in the name of fitouts. Due to the Na­tional Green

Tri­bunal (NGT) or­der, the Noida De­vel­op­ment Author­ity can­not is­sue com­ple­tion cer­tifi­cates to any real es­tate pro­ject which falls in the 10 km ra­dius of the Okhla Bird Sanc­tu­ary. In the ab­sence of a com­ple­tion cer­tifi­cate, no developer can legally give pos­ses­sion. This is a gen­uine prob­lem with some de­vel­op­ers who have com­pleted their projects but are un­able to of­fer pos­ses­sion.”

The developer adds that the NGT or­der has come as a boon in dis­guise for many real es­tate de­vel­op­ers with de­layed projects as by cit­ing it they are able to wash their hands of their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. “When pres­surised by home­buy­ers, de­vel­op­ers of­fer pos­ses­sion just for fitouts in under-con­struc­tion tow­ers which could pose a se­ri­ous risk to res­i­dents be­cause of fall­ing de­bris, naked wires etc,’’ he adds.

Pos­ses­sion just for fitouts is be­ing of­fered in Gur­gaon, Farid­abad and other real es­tate des­ti­na­tions be­cause de­vel­op­ers who fail to com­ply with build­ing byelaws know that they will not get com­ple­tion cer­tifi- cates. “It’s a com­mon prac­tice in many up­com­ing sec­tors in Gur­gaon. We have com­plained of­ten to the depart­ment of town and coun­try plan­ning but noth­ing has hap­pened yet by way of re­dres­sal,” says MK Gupta, a home­buyer in Gur­gaon.

HT Es­tates had high­lighted a sim­i­lar is­sue some­time back in which a developer in Noida was of­fer­ing pos­ses­sion in a sim­i­lar fash­ion be­cause he was un­able to pay lease rent to the Noida Author­ity. Soon after the story broke, the author­ity took ac­tion against the builder.

“Ear­lier, when the de­vel­op­ers were un­able to pay the lease rent, the author­ity re­fused to grant them a com­ple­tion cer­tifi­cate and the developer used to take the fitout route to give pos­ses­sion. Now the same thing is hap­pen­ing due to sev­eral other rea­sons. Be it the NGT or­der or de­lay in con­struc­tion, when the developer re­alises that he is not able to give pos­ses­sion on time, he com­pels the home­buy­ers to take pos­ses­sion in the name of fitouts,” says Jas­bir Singh Mal­lik, a Supreme Court lawyer.

THINKSTOCK

Home­buy­ers of­ten take pos­ses­sion of un­fin­ished apart­ments at the cost of their safety to avoid pay­ing both equated monthly in­stall­ments and rent

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