Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (MahaRERA) has commissioned developer Acme Housing India Pvt. Ltd to pay interest on deferred ownership. The authority has directed to pay 21 months of interest to homebuyers of the Alpinia project in Thane. In accordance with section 18 of the RERA Act.
The order from MahaRERA member Vijay Satbir Singh was received in response to a complaint from home buyers Aniket and Rajashri Alashe. They had booked an apartment in this project in December 2014 with the promise of ownership until 31 December 2017. The buyer also made a payment of Rs 1 crore. But the developer did not transfer the property under the registered sale and purchase agreement.
Thane Municipal Corporation was responsible for the delay!
Advocate K.R. Shekhawat, quoted by Acme Housing India Pvt. Ltd. strongly opposed the demand for deferred ownership. He said clause 9.2 of the agreement allows home buyers to terminate the agreement if the ownership has not been transferred. But they had not canceled the agreement. Shekhawat said that clause provides for an extension of the period of ownership in the presence of force majeure. (Force Majeure refers to a clause included in contracts to exclude liability for unpredictable and natural disasters that disrupt the course of events and obstruct participants from completing their task).
Claiming that Mumbai High Court did not allow Thane Municipal Corporation to issue building permits and Occupancy Certificates (OC) for projects on Ghodbunder Road due to lack of water in PIL (Public Interest Litigation). He said the Alpinia project suffered from this stay order because the project was near Ghodbunder Road.
Shekhawat also claimed that the demonetization and implementation of RERA and GST created a monetary crisis. This creates a lack of funds and daily wage laborers could not hire for construction work. He also cited a lack of sand, cement, and ready-mixed concrete in 2013-2014 as well as a ban on sand mining as reasons for the delay in project completion.
K.R. Shekhawat also accused Thane Municipal Corporation and said the OC granted four months after the completion of the project. He further said the ownership offered to home buyers after receiving OC. But they approached MahaRERA instead and therefore their complaint could not be resolved after granting the OC.
Violation of sale and purchase agreement
Lawyer Tanuj Lodha, representing home buyers, filed an objection and firmly rejected the developer’s claim. He claimed that the developer had accepted significant capital from buyers and the excuse of force majeure is baseless. He claimed that the developer had violated the terms of the sale and purchase agreement and the Maharashtra Real Estate Court of Appeal. In addition, the Bombay High Court has clearly ruled that the developer is obliged to pay interest on deferred ownership. Under section 18 of the RERA in the event of a breach of the terms of the agreement.
Developers should be aware of market risks!
MahaRERA member Vijay Satbir Singh noted that the sale agreement refers to a six-month extension or grace period until June 30, 2018. But by that date, the developer had not granted ownership. He rejected arguments about demonetization, RERA, GST, sand mining, etc. He said that the developer should have a good understanding of the real estate sector and market risks before starting the project. The developer failed to inform the applicants about the restrictions and also did not provide explanation on delayed possession.
He claimed that the Maharashtra Ownership of Flats Act (MOFA) allows the developer a maximum extension of six months or until June 30, 2018. After RERA came into force on May 1, 2017. The developer should pay interest on late ownership in accordance with the provisions of section 18.
Singh also noted that the buyers filed a lawsuit on June 20, 2020, after the developer received the OC and offered ownership of the apartment on March 3, 2020. “In that sense, MahaRERA feels that under the provisions of section 19 RERA. The buyers are obliged to take possession of the apartment within 2 months from the date of OC. However, the applicant violated the provisions of section 19(10). He noted and denied the increase in interest after March 3, 2020. The order stated that Acme Housing should pay 9.3 percent interest for each month from July 1, 2018, to March 3, 2020.