The state regulator appointed to implement the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA) Sudhir Mahajan appears to be dragging his feet on the implementation of the path-breaking law aimed at protecting the interests of property buyers. While most of the states have framed and notified the RERA rules Goa is sleeping over it, though Mahajan, who is the secretary for urban development, was appointed as RERA regulator on June 1. Even the required three-member authority is not formed. With almost two months of the three-month period the regulator was given to act on the new legislation gone the government might be forced to extend the deadline.
The RERA was passed to address grievances of buyers and to bring transparency and accountability in the real estate sector. It is expected to increase buyer’s trust in housing projects and make the industry more organized. Real estate builders and brokers cannot operate until they register with the authority. As it is compulsory for every state to establish a State Real Estate Regulatory Authority the state government should set one up so that buyers can approach it for redressal of their grievances. The buyers would be beneficiaries of the law as the property will have to be sold to buyers based on the carpet area and not on super built-up area, which will become illegal under the new law. Failure on the part of the builders to register with the authority and adhere to the norms could attract penalty and repeated violations could also send them to jail. The developer can’t make any changes to the plan without the written consent of the buyer. This provision will not allow developers to cheat home buyers and to increase the cost of their projects by using devious means, which was a common practice.
Maharashtra, a far bigger state than Goa, has been the first state to frame rules and appoint an interim authority. The builders and brokers in Maharashtra are rushing to get their projects registered with the state’s Real Estate Regulation Authority. Though the act came into effect on May 1, 2017 across the country, the implementation of the far-reaching law in the state could be delayed owing to official apathy. Goa has been the model for other states in implementation of the various people-oriented central and state legislations but appears to have missed the bus on the execution of the RERA. The Goa authorities could have studied the Maharashtra rules and adopted some of them that suit the state in framing our own rules and set the ball in motion for protecting the interests of home buyers. The state authorities should set the ball in motion at the earliest by framing the rules and notifying them. Once rules are notified, the builders should be asked to register their projects with the RERA authority within a period of 90 days. It is ironical that the state’s builders are in favour of the RERA and have declared their intention to be governed by the new law and are awaiting the rules to be notified, but the state government is slow in doing it.
There are a number of home buyers who have been conned by those builders who do not care for their brand value and credibility. Most of them have so far sought redressal of their grievances through the consumer courts, though not with much success, as some of them claim bankruptcy. The setting up of the authority and implementation of RERA in letter and spirit is expected to bring down the number of litigations between home buyers and builders. Besides, the consumers’ redressal fora in the state, which the aggrieved home buyers approach for redressal of their grievances, would have more time for other subjects as the complaints regarding property dispute would be looked into by the RERA authority. A sizeable number of the cases in the district and state consumer fora are of disputes between home buyers and builders. There are many people who have spent their lifetime’s earnings for buying a roof over their head and been cheated by property developers leaving them with no scope but engage in prolonged legal battles. Delay in notifying rules and setting the process of helping the home buyers would work only to the advantage of the unscrupulous builders, property developers and brokers. It should be endeavour of the government to come to the rescue of the common man and complete the process immediately.