Several Real Estate Regulatory Authorities (RERAs) are pushing for more enforcement power, similar to what is enjoyed by consumer forums, including the authority to issue arrest warrants.
At the first meeting of a new RERA implementation committee held on Thursday, there was broad consensus that the RERA Act needed to be amended to further empower them. The details would, however, only be worked out by January 22, according to those who attended the meeting.
“State RERA representatives say they are becoming toothless, if they are unable to execute their own orders,” said an attendee, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There was a consensus in favour of more powers, but the details have not been thrashed out yet.”
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986, allows consumer forums to assume the powers of a first class judicial magistrate for the trial of offences under the Act (Section 27.2). RERAs are asking that the RERA Act be amended to give them similar powers. Currently, real estate regulators must depend on outside magistrates to implement their orders.
Thursday’s meeting chaired by Shiv Das Meena, joint secretary Housing and Urban Affairs, was attended by builders’ representatives and developer lobby groups, real estate agents, home buyers and apartment owners’ associations and several State RERAs. The committee was set up to examine difficulties in the implementation of the RERA law and the suggestions to improve it, which had emerged from four regional workshops over the last few months.
One major demand from builders was to separate the guarantees on structural defects and workmanship, and to offer them from the date of completion of the project. Currently, the law says that promoters must rectify structural defects or any other defect in workmanship if brought to their notice within a five year period from the date of handing over possession. Home buyers’ representatives vehemently opposed the builders’ demand, said an attendee who did not wish to be named.
The Ministry proposes to solve some problems by amending the Act through Central orders rather than a Parliamentary process, using a Removal of Difficulties clause which is only valid for two years. Some consumer groups had held that the clause was already invalid as it had been notified in May 2016. However, the Urban Affairs Ministry told the committee that the Law Ministry had advised it that the clause could still be used to amend the Sections of the Act which were only notified in May 2017.
The next meeting of the committee will be on January 22, when the Ministry may present a draft of proposed changes to the Act.