Flat Owner A Consumer Regardless of Title
Flat Owner A Consumer Regardless of Title Ideally, the consumer must be treated as the owner of the flat in all respects the moment the agreement for the sale is executed between the builder and the prospective flat owner. Unfortunately, the builders do not play their part until the end of the deal. We often find gross deficiencies at various levels on the part of builders when it comes to the actual delivery of premises to the buyers.
Fortunately, in recent times, active measures have been taken in this regard. Consequently, we now have laws to safeguard the consumer in real estate also. Gradually, a proper buyer or flat owner has been brought under the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act. GST COUNCIL
The Consumer Protection actwas enforcedin the year 1986 to provide better protection of consumer interest. However, even after the enactment of the legislation, the practice of cheating the consumer has not been totally done away with. There many ways, in which the consumer is being exploited even today, some of them are as follows-
- Consumer grievances may be caused because of housing construction defects.
- Common disputes concerning the delay in construction and the allotment of housing and commercial premises.
- Non-delivery of the premises on time as agreed upon by the builder.
- Non-insertion of the name of the owner of the flat in the register as required.
Some of the remedies available to the flat owner are as follows-
- In case the builder has carried on with the construction of the building in violations of the stipulated regulations, it is now enjoined upon the builder to pay compensation for the damages suffered by the flat owner due to non-compliance of regulations.
- The aggrieved consumer can now be provided with a refund of deposit in case the consumer has been allotted an area lesser than that which he had actually paid for.
- In case of any of the above including the non-insertion of the clause of the owner as of the member of the society the consumer can claim damages and penalty from the builder.
- A builder can be asked to clarify every detail mentioned in advertisement soliciting consumers. If certain ambiguities are found in the agreement, he may write to the builder seeking clarification and obtain the builder’s response in writing. As per the law, it amounts to deficiency of services.
- All forms of communication in case of any grievance with respect to any deficiency in service should be in writing.
- A clause may be added to the agreement providing for an interest to be paid by the builder in case of delay on his part in completing the construction or in giving the possession of the premises to the consumer.
In a leading judgement, the South Mumbai Consumer Forum has held that a flat owner legally occupying the flat would be a consumer, even if his title to the flat might be in dispute before a competent court.
It was held that the plaintiff family had clearly put the society to notice by writing for permission to carry out repairs and stating that the society would be liable if permission was not granted. The issue of inheritance before the High Court would not debar the filling of a consumer complaint about repairs.
It becomes obvious from the nature of precautions explained above and recent instances that a little more effort and great care in documentation and communication with the builder may save the considerable loss of money and time at a later stage to the flat owner as he is very much a consumer in the eyes of law.