One-fourth real estate units in Gurugram are stressed: RERA chief

K.K. Khandelwal, Chairman of Haryana Real Estate Regulatory Authority, Gurugram.   | Photo Credit: de29 RERA

Around 70,000 real estate units – almost one-fourth of the total units being monitored by the Haryana Real Estate Regulatory Authority (HRERA) in the Millennium City – across 30-odd projects are stressed for various reasons, disclosed HRERA Gurugram Chairman K.K. Khandelwal. He was speaking to The Hindu on a variety of issues concerning the sector and the authority.

Mr. Khandelwal said RERA was ordering refund to the unit owners for the projects that seemed doomed, but supporting those projects that could still be completed keeping in mind the interests of the large number of unit-holders. “In many cases, the unit owners are approaching us with the appeal for refund in stressed projects since they bought units at higher rates and now the market prices have dwindled. But if we find that the project can be completed, we don’t order for refund since it will harm the interests of other unit-holders and the developer. In such cases, we only order penalty for the delays. If a project is unlikely to be completed, we order refund,” said Mr. Khandelwal. Five of these projects belong to Raheja group, he added.

13,031 complaints

Set up on February 5, 2018, after the Haryana government notified The Haryana Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Rules, 2017 on July 28, 2017, the HRERA Gurugram has received 13,031 complaints so far and disposed of around 9,900. Mr. Khandelwal said that a majority of these complaints were regarding delay in possession and refund.

“Out of the 9,900 complaints, 7,000-odd were settled summarily and the rest required detailed hearings,” said Mr. Khandelwal.

He conceded that in the initial years many RERA orders were challenged in the Appellant Tribunal and the Punjab and Haryana High Court leading to delay in execution of the orders, but these were all “teething troubles” and the orders of the authority were now all executed except 703, which were pending for various reasons such as the developer being on the run. He added that it took time for the law to settle.

“We have two ways to get our orders executed. The Section 40 of the RERA Act puts the private dues of the allottees against a developer, such as penalty, compensation and the interests ordered by the authority, at par with the government dues and the same can be recovered as arrears of land revenue. We also have the powers of the Civil Court. We have the power to attach the bank accounts of the builder if a payment is not made to the allottee even after two months of the order. The money is paid to the allottee through a cheque from the bank account of the builder. In case there is no money in the account, we can issue arrest warrants against the developer and send him to jail for three months,” said Mr. Khandelwal.

Around 400 projects are registered with the authority with the total area of nearly 1.0 lakh acres (1,06,657 acres). Around 2,50,000 units are under monitoring of this authority as of now, of which 60,000 units are in the Affordable Housing segment.

Mediation forum

With the aim to reduce petitions and expedite grievance redress, the HRERA Gurugram recently set up a mediation forum.

“Two types of cases fall under the ambit of this forum. First, the applications made for mediation at pre-filing of formal complaint stage. These will be taken up by grievance redress cell and our chief public relations officer Deepa Malik, a paralympian, on an individual basis. It will save the time and money of the complainants. The second type of cases are the complaints referred by the authority to a retired district and sessions judge and adjudicating office. It is a new experiment unlike the reconciliation centres set up by RERAs in other States,” said Mr. Khandelwal.

He added that HRERA Gurugram had been “pioneering” in many ways and delivered some “path-breaking” decisions setting up precedents for others to follow.

“Pronouncing judgment in a case pertaining to e-auction of a project by a creditor company, the HARERA ruled that the rights of the allottees are not subservient to those of the bank. The order emphasised that in case of failure of the banks to ensure that the funds were applied for the purpose they were granted, banks cannot be allowed to supersede the rights of the allottees,” said Mr. Khandelwal.

He stressed that the RERA could intervene in all those cases where the builder had failed to fulfil its obligations towards the consumers, including lack of infrastructure, and action was initiated in case a complaint was received. He added that recently, complaints were received from flat owners about developers forcing them into signing settlement bonds to avoid delayed compensation and these were also being looked into.

Mr. Khandelwal said that several malpractices were prevalent in the real estate sector before the setting up of RERA, such as delay in possession, diversion of funds by developers, lack of quality control and unilateral changes in the layout plans by the developers, but the authority had put checks on them through a law.

“Before RERA, the consumers were fast losing trust in the developers. The RERA has reinstated the faith of the common man in the real estate sector. It is a win-win situation for both the developers and the consumers. This, I believe, is the biggest achievement of the authority,” said Mr. Khandelwal.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 10:30:14 PM |

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