The A.P. Apartments (Promotion of Construction and Ownership) Act, 1987, if resurrected can empower consumers as well as regulatory authorities in keeping a check on the build, violate, exploit and vanish tricks of builders. A look by A.B. Reddy

Buildings rules and building regulations. While municipal corporations and urban development bodies grapple with them, there is an Act which has been put in the doghouse inexplicably.

The Andhra Pradesh Apartments (Promotion of Construction and Ownership) Act, 1987, if resurrected could empower the consumers as well the regulatory authorities in keeping a check on the build, violate, exploit and vanish tricks of the builders.

The Legislative Assembly had passed the Act for regulating promotion of construction and sale of apartments in multi-storied buildings on ownership basis and to provide for transferability and heritability by the individual purchaser of not only the apartment concerned but also the fractional interest to it in the common areas and facilities.

Onus on builder

It meant that builder has to ensure formation of the society, lay down voting rights as per the built up area purchased by each flat owner and register the same with all details with the municipal corporation or urban planning body.

The builder has no right to alter the plan sanctioned and once a flat is purchased, the purchaser and builder become common owners of all facilities.

The Act was modelled on the lines of the Maharashtra Apartment Ownership Act, 1970 with suitable changes. It consists of four chapters covering total 35 sections. Let us examine how it was watered down. Section 2 of the Act states:

“Provisions of this Act excepting Chapter III, shall apply to every property and the provision of chapters III, shall not apply to any property, unless the sole owner or all the owners there of submit the same to the provisions of that Chapter by duly executing and registering a declaration as hereafter provided.”

Practically defunct

Thus, 35 important sections have become practically defunct because it will not come into effect until the builder/owners of the apartments opt for it by executing and registering a declaration.

Therefore, it appears as if the Act was passed and promulgated only to safeguard the interests of builders rather than the general public.

Not allowed

Yet, realising the gravity of the omission, the Government wanted to amend and even prepared the same to be promulgated through an ordinance in 1993 so that the Act provisions is made applicable to every property.

Unfortunately, it was not allowed due to pressure from the builders association.

Ever since, no one has bothered to adhere to the Act despite a High Court order making the provision applicable to all buildings.

The Act also states that if any promoter or owner of the apartment who without reasonable excuse fails to comply with or contravenes any provisions of sections shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to Rs 50,000 or both.

It prohibits selling, leasing and misuse of common areas and facilities. It also mentions provision of fire prevention steps and responsibilities of the flat owners too.

Official apathy is clearly indicative in the callous manner in which questions posed on the Act implementation under the RTI Act were answered by information officers of the municipal corporations and urban development authorities of Hyderabad, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam. GHMC and GVMC refused to part with information regarding number of apartments permitted after the Act came into force. They offered to answer about any specific building. VUDA ignored the question. HMDA falsely claimed the details to be on its website.

Vijayawada Municipal Corporation, however, informed that 595 permissions were given but no builder submitted any declaration.

The city's urban development body informed that 1,467 permissions were given and again, no builder submitted any declaration.

It is high time the Government amended the A.P. Apartments (Promotion of Construction and Ownership) Act to overcome the plethora of problems caused due to the builders' unethical practices.

(Writer is a senior architect and can be contacted at archineers212@yahoo.com)

Keywords: real estate