Home builder delay may need legal action


When to take legal help

Generally, most home buyers remain in a dilemma: to file a case against the developer or not? Most don’t want to get involved in a long drawn legal process. Some are even scared of going against a builder. “The larger and less wholesome truth is that the current legal dispensation is ill-equipped and under-regulated to offer complete consumer protection in matters related to real estate,” said Anuj Puri, chairman and country head, JLL India. But, “many examples of customers obtaining favourable decisions upon approaching consumer courts exist, and the power of these forums should not be underestimated,” he added.

So, if you are an aggrieved home buyer, you should not hesitate in taking legal help. “Once the due date for possession is over, the buyer should visit the site and take stock of the situation by trying to assess whether the period of delay will be negligible or considerable. If the buyer feels that delay will be considerable, it would be pointless to wait further, and she should immediately file a case,” said Jehangir Gai, a Mumbai-based consumer activist.

You can also approach the court for other issues as well. “When it comes to deviations from the original project plan, which can result in a shortfall of common amenities or drastic changes to the units themselves, the customer should take action as soon as these deviations come to light,” said Puri.

But do remember that there is a stipulated time frame within which a case has to be filed by home buyers. “The consumer court will not entertain a complaint after the limitation period of two years is over from the date of cause of action. Hence, the consumer has to be very alert and should immediately file a case in the consumer court. Don’t keep the matter pending,” said Arun Saxena, president, International Consumer Right Protection Council. However, “with regard to real estate, since there will be a continuous cause of action, this provision (2-year timeline) may not strictly apply,” said S. Saroja, director, consumer advisory and outreach, Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group.

There are different avenues that you can take. “A homebuyer can approach the consumer court, civil or criminal court, or the Competition Commission of India (CCI), depending on the nature of complaint,” said Saroja.

Things to do

As in any legal matter, you should posses evidence to prove your stand or allegation. Get all papers and documents ready—advertisement brochure, booking receipts with payment details, any letter sent by the developer, signed agreement, all payment details, emails exchanged, photographs collected, and others. Avoid verbal communication.

“It is important that the consumer maintains written correspondence with the builder at regular intervals during the course of construction, highlighting issues then and there, as this will be a strong point in her favour when she approaches the Consumer Fora at a later stage,” said Saroja.

However, before going for legal action, you should have raised the issue with the developer. “Buyers should always send a legal notice before approaching any forum or court with their grievance. They should have taken objection with the builder against violations or illegal demands by sending a letter so that evidence can be created in their favour to be produced at the time of proceedings,” said Pathak.

So, if you are an aggrieved home buyer, contact others and form a group. Note down the issues and information available with each person. Approach the developer as a group. If no resolution is in sight, take legal advice from an expert.

Delay of six months to a year has become commonplace in residential real estate, and most buyers expect it. But a longer delay puts additional financial burden, and filing a suit against a developer is justified.

Doors To Knock On…… Read ahead this article

 

Builder delays will cost you time and money


Gaurav Prakash, 35, is a senior solution architect working with Ericsson India Ltd, in Gurgaon. But a problem that he can’t find a solution to is his house. Towards the end of 2011, he along with his wife Sashi Pandey, a 35-year-old senior manager in a telecom company, bought an under-construction apartment of about 2,000 sq. ft in Dwarka Expressway, which falls roughly between Gurgaon and Dwarka (on the south-western periphery of New Delhi).The house cost them Rs.70 lakh, for which the couple took a home loan. They were told that they will get possession by around June 2014, but that didn’t happen. And like scores of other urban Indians, they too, are still waiting for the house two years later.

But apart from the house being not available, what bothers them, and others alike, is that they are not able to make use of the substantial tax benefits available on a home loan. And then there’s the rent they continue to pay. “We are paying Rs.52,000 as equated monthly instalment (EMI), andRs.28,000 as rent every month,” said Prakash. So, it’s a triple whammy. Here’s why.

The couple had taken a construction-linked home loan. For two years, construction progressed well and the developer asked for about 90% of the cost based on the stage of the project. But after that, construction almost stopped. As of now, the estimated date of possession is June 2016.

The two-year delay in completion has substantially increased the effective cost of purchasing the house. And most of these costs will not get added while determining the cost of acquisition at the time of calculating capital gains if and when the house is sold. But that comes much later, since the couple doesn’t have the house yet, as also many other home buyers.

Project delay not only restrains home buyers from shifting into their own houses, but also has a big impact on the cost of purchase. Here’s a look at how much that impact can be and how it happens. Read Ahead

Problem No.1: Paying both EMI and rent

Problem No.2: Loss of home loan tax benefits

Problem No.3: Loss due to income tax

Problem No.4: There are other costs also

Mint Money take

If you buy an under-construction property, and it gets stuck, there is limited scope of getting out. Not only do you have to pay both EMI and rent, if you want to sell the house, finding a buyer for a project running behind schedule can be difficult. Even if you do find a buyer, you may have to incur a heavy loss, as you may not be able to get the right price to recover the cost.

If you are an end-user, selling and buying a house in a completed project may not be a feasible option. You will have to sell your current house at a loss and the new completed house will come at a premium.

So, first try to look at the other options. “Look at the clauses in the agreement for penalties that one can pursue legally,” said Anil Rego, chief executive officer and founder, Right Horizons.

If for some reason you are unable to service the loan, “one can request the loan issuing bank to allow her to delay the loan payments. But in this case, the interest will get added to the principal and the total loan amount will increase. Moreover, not all banks will provide that facility,” said Rego.

If the delay is due to the developer, form a home buyers’ association and approach the developer jointly. “The best option is to talk to the developer and try to get the issue resolved as soon as possible,” said Rego. Try to convince the developer to enhance the compensation for the delay and complete the construction soon. If the developer does not pay heed to buyers’ demands, you can look for a legal recourse.

Last year, in June, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) asked real estate company Unitech Ltd. to pay buyers compensation at the rate of 12% per annum for delay in delivery of apartments, overruling the builder-buyer agreement that had set the rate at 1.8% per annum. While these recourses will not benefit you immediately, you may be able to recover some of the loss.

Under current conditions, project delay is the biggest risk for a home buyer. “ Given the companies’ stretched balance sheets and cashflow problems, we expect execution delays to persist in the short term,” said Samir Jasuja, founder and chief executive officer, PropEquity. If possible, avoid buying an under-construction property. It may be better to pay a premium to buy a completed apartment than being in a situation like that of Prakash and Pandey.Also, do proper due diligence about the developer, track record of delivery, quality of projects and financial position, if possible, before buying a property.

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4 Home Loan rules most of the investors don’t know about


Can you claim tax deduction for your under-constructed house? Can you claim tax for the home loan taken from your friend and not from Bank ? These are some of the questions which are not generally discussed over and lot of investors have no idea about actual rules. In the video below I will talk about four not so known rules of home loans . Keep reading ! . Readers on email can watch the video on this article.