RERA (Real Estate Regulation Authority) act was launched with the purpose to make the real estate sector transparent, get deliveries done on time and bring about an all-inclusive control on the sector. Let us see how this has effected house-hunting, months after implementation of the law in Maharashtra in July. It arises as an assortment of different colors, as HT Estates reporter Lavina Mulchandani stumbled upon when she completed a fact-based bench test whilst her house-hunt.

After going through various undertakings for a flat of her choice since nearly three months, Mulchandani sorted one in Ambernath in the district of Thane, in September 2017. It has nearly been finished in terms of construction and the project was documented under MahaRERA; the builder had committed to deliver the house in December 2017. To corroborate that the date was fixed in accordance with the new law also, she paid a visit to the MahaRERA portal. On the website, she found that the whole project’s possession date was mentioned, which included all phases of the township project of which also had the building in which her flat was situated. The possession date for the project was mentioned as December 2020. The phase comprises eight buildings, some of which are still in the pre-construction stage.

With respect to township or multiphase projects, a legal consultant from MahaRERA (the authority assigns consultants to guide consumers about the alternatives they have at their disposal in case a developer is noncompliant) is allocated to buyers. Only the sale deed will have in writing the month and year of possession for the flat. The legal advisor confirmed, “If the developer fails to hand over possession on the date, we ask him for a justification and grant him a period of three to six months to finish the project. After that he is slapped with penalties”.

In the case of unreliable possession dates, Mulchandani decided to make a choice for a ready-to-move-in flat as the best suitable alternative.

Initial glitches

When Ashish Sukhramani, 30, a Thane-based software engineer, who was looking up the MahaRERA website to confirm the particulars of a project in Mulund that that had caught his attention, was confronted with the biggest hindrance in the form of the vocabulary used. Information pertaining to water pipelines and drainage network system was listed in a much abbreviated manner. Terms such as ‘Connection from ESR; WIP’ were like Greek to a layperson. “Litigations against the projects are also described in acronyms and legalese,” he says. “The project information is ostensibly meant for buyers, but it’s too complicated for them to understand,” says Samir Jasuja, MD and founder of PropEquity, an online real-estate data and analytics platform. “We have a team of experts that analyse the information. But that’s like hiring a CA to guide you in filing your income-tax returns.”

A few of these issues will probably be fixed soon, but users should essentially to put forward their feedback so that this gets rolling soon, says Jasuja.

Rationale vs Procedure

The variant of RERA that has been implemented is a watered-down one, says Pankaj Kapoor, CEO of real estate research firm, Liases Foras. “Projects that are 60% or more complete, for instance, are now outside the ambit of RERA in some states, including Maharashtra,” he adds. It is important that authorities set water tight deadlines for different projects on the basis of their category, Kapoor says. “For instance, a project of an area of 1 lakh sqft should be completed in three years.” According to feedback from consultant firms and developers, RERA is being internally incorporated with many changes. “Once the initial stumbling blocks are removed, it could emerge as strong a regulator as the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI),” Jasuja says. Simultaneously, numerous hotlines providing support will be added and the portal is inclined to be more informative in the times to come, says the MahaRERA legal advisor.

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