Real estate in the country was known for its notoriety prior to the real estate regulator coming into force. The situation in the real estate market remains as grim as ever and if at all, has not improved much even after the introduction of RERA.
A relentless fight by homebuyers, constantly strategising to get their home, the selfless devotion of some activists to force the real estate to deliver and the intent of the government seem to be crumbling under the unbearable pressure of corruption machinery involving the thick-skinned developers ably supported by the administration, banks and unbearable demoralising gestation period of court decisions.
When the much-hyped RERA was enacted, the beleaguered homebuyers heaved a sigh of relief and expected their problems to come to an end. They hoped the developers will fall in line and the corrupt real estate industry will get cleansed. However, two years is a long time by any standards, and if we seek the report card of RERA in any of the states in general and right under the noses of corridors of power in Delhi NCR, then the situation appears far from encouraging.
Consider the case of Haryana RERA. Over 1,450 cases are filed in Haryana Real Estate Regulatory Authority (HRERA) since its inception and around 1,350 cases have been disposed of so far. No doubt that these cases have been disposed of in 3-6 months, but the orders passed are very much at the surface level, more like consumer courts, and have not been detailed out.
HRERA has not used its inherent powers to dig out the issues filed in various complaints. Some of the major issues affecting homebuyers like the delay in possession, possession without promised amenities, possession with unreasonable demand etc. need investigation in much detail. Builders should be penalised in such cases and adequate compensation should be given to the homebuyers.
One more interesting fact is that not even 1% of the passed orders are executed because the provisions of the punishment to builders for non-compliance of these orders are not being enforced.
The states which have established RERA authorities have diluted the provisions in many cases, which has left many ongoing projects out of the ambit of RERA.
Another example is Uttar Pradesh RERA’s recent notification which allows builders to offer possession of flats if there is more then seven days of delay from government authorities in issuing of Occupation Certificate (OC) for the project. This is against the interest of homebuyers. How can this be deemed accepted without checking the basic project infrastructure in place? What is the government doing when such malpractices go on in such forums in connivance with builders’ lobby?
There is not only a great possibility to improve but clean up the real estate mess in entirety, provided the most important stakeholder, the government, is willing to play its role. It has to ensure that the administration works proactively and force them to use the ‘teeth’ provided to RERA authorities.
It’s now the third year of full implementation of RERA and it’s high time that its orders are executed within a reasonable timeframe of 90 days. This is possible if local and RERA authorities, along with the state government and its revenue officials, take initiatives and work out the modalities together.
Monitoring of project progress, managing online portals, ensuring developer compliance with the plans, seeking timely reports from the authorities concerned, carrying out regular forensic audits to keep the developers and banking institutions under check, ensuring all necessary taxes are deposited with the government in time and imposition of prohibitive penalties when required are also some of the important-but-ignored functions of RERA authorities. Extra staff may be provided by the government to undertake the above functions.
To make RERA more transparent and effective, provision of in-camera proceedings and live feed of all the proceedings need to be put in place.