Hav­ing prob­lems with your so­ci­ety’s lifts?

De­vel­op­ers fail­ing to de­liver ser­vices promised in company brochures and charg­ing main­te­nance fees can be taken to task by home­buy­ers hav­ing prob­lems with common fa­cil­i­ties

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Su­nil Tyagi

One of the things that m o s t bu ye r s c h e c k be­fore buy­ing an apart­ment in a group hous­ing project are the ser­vices like wa­ter, elec­tric­ity, power backup, se­cu­rity, el­e­va­tors, open ar­eas for recre­ation, etc and the qual­ity of main­te­nance of th­ese ser­vices by the de­vel­oper or any other agency ap­pointed for the pur­pose. Any de­fault or la­cu­nae with re­spect to th­ese ser­vices and their main­te­nance ham­pers the peace­ful use and en­joy­ment of the dwelling unit.

In a judg­ment by the Na­tional Con­sumer Dis­pute Re­dres­sal Com­mis­sion de­cided in 2013, the poor main­te­nance ser­vice prob­lem of ag­grieved con­sumers were re­solved. A com­plaint was filed in the Na­tional Com­mis­sion by flat own­ers of cer­tain blocks of a mul­ti­storeyed build­ing com­plex in Gur­gaon, which were al­lot­ted in the year 2002. They com­plained about the false rep­re­sen­ta­tions made by the builder and pro­moter of the flats and the el­e­va­tor company. In ad­ver­tise­ments and other pro­mo­tional ma­te­rial for sale of flats, one high-speed el­e­va­tor was promised for ev­ery ten flats. How­ever, there was only one el­e­va­tor in­stalled for ev­ery 20 flats. Also, th­ese were not ‘high-speed’ el­e­va­tors.

The com­plainants also had an is­sue with the non-main­te­nance of el­e­va­tors. It was brought to the com­mis­sion’s no­tice that the el­e­va­tors some­times stopped a few feet above the des­ig­nated floors and the res­i­dents had to jump out, risk­ing in­jury. Also, the el­e­va­tors were not equipped with au­to­matic res­cue de­vice, thus, dur­ing power cuts the el­e­va­tors did not stop at the next clos­est floor. Dur­ing a power cut, the el­e­va­tors would stop mid way till power backup fa­cil­i­ties re­sumed power sup­ply. In­stances were high­lighted where the el­e­va­tors abruptly came to a stop after free fall­ing to a few floors due to lack of ef­fec­tive and reg­u­lar main­te­nance.

There were two main is­sues which were dis­cussed by the Na­tional Com­mis­sion. The frst is­sue was the num­ber and qual­ity of el­e­va­tors that were promised in the ad­ver­tise­ments. The sec­ond is­sue was the reg­u­lar and ef­fi­cient main­te­nance of the el­e­va­tors which was re­quired to be main­tained by the pro­moter/builder and the el­e­va­tor company and main­te­nance charges with re­spect to the same.

The pro­moter/builder charged ₹ 1.50 per sq ft, which was later raised to ₹ 2.26 per sq ft for main­te­nance of el­e­va­tors. No record was pro­duced re­gard­ing t he visit of any en­gi­neer or of­fi­cial for main­te­nance of the el­e­va­tors and no rea­son was given for not keep­ing the records. The main­te­nance al­lowance was, how­ever, charged from the res­i­dents reg­u­larly. The cor­re­spon­dence let­ters be­tween the pro­moter/ builder and the res­i­dents wel­fare as­so­ci­a­tion proved that the pro­moter/builder had ac­cepted, that el­e­va­tors needed to be re­placed. The Com­mis­sion no­ticed that op­er­at­ing li­cense of the el­e­va­tors company was also not re­newed de­spite the the poor state of the el­e­va­tors. This vi­o­lated the laws of Haryana where such an op­er­at­ing li­cense is manda­tory for use of el­e­va­tors. The pro­moter/ builder was di­rected to pay back 70% of the main­te­nance charged with in­ter­est at the rate of 9% per an­num. The com­mis­sion fur­ther di­rected that records be main­tained re­gard­ing main­te­nance of el­e­va­tors. The pro- moter/builder ap­pealed to the Supreme Court which was dis­missed in Au­gust 2014, thereby, up­hold­ing the decision of the Na­tional Com­mis­sion.

The les­son that buy­ers can draw is that those liv­ing in group hous­ing com­plexes can en­force their right of main­te­nance of common ar­eas and f acil­i­ties if they are be­ing charged for the same.

THINKSTOCK

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