Can a Member approach Consumer Forum against their grievance?

 The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (the CPA 1986) is a Central Govt. Act applicable in all states of India, to provide for the protection of the interests of consumers and settlement of consumers’ disputes.

Housing is covered under the term “service” in the CPA 1986. The services provided by the builder to the members are comes under the CPA 1986. The members of the Co-operative Housing Societies always face lot of problems with respect to rendering any services such as allotment of house, possession of house, maintenance services in relation to housing complex etc are covered by the CPA 1986 and a member can approach the Consumer Forums for claiming compensation and damages against the housing society/ builder for rendering deficient in services.

Builders and developers play vital role in redevelopment of housing societies. The real Estate sector has been growing at 25-30 per cent a year.

Housing society primarily being a co-operative society, the Society can provide housing loan to the members of the society. One of the Judgment of Supreme Court i.e. Secretary, Thirumurugan co-operative Agricultural Credit Society v/s. M. Lalitha, (2004) is applicable for the Co-operative housing society for deficiency in services retaining the title deeds.

The Maharashtra Ownership of Flats Act, 1963, protects buyers against malpractices in the sale and transfer of flats. It gives homebuyers the right to inspect the builder’s documents such as the specifications that he has obtained from the authorities. The member has to check if any changes are being made by the builder to the specifications mentioned in the agreement and the allotment letter. You must also ask for a copy of the sanctions that the builder has taken from the authorities to carry out the alterations.

1.           Builder avoid to form a society.
2.           Delay in possession
3.           Seepage issues
4.           Deficiency in service
5.           The builder forcibly vacates the tenants by giving them less than 1/3rd of prevailing market rates in the area.
6.           Drinking water provision & motor pumping to over head tank
7.           Parking problem
8.           Improper earthling & low quality of electrical wiring of flats are damaging our consumer electrical and electronic goods.
9.           Four side boundary wall
10.       Occupation Certificate not provided
11.       The builder have provided us poor quality of lift with no generator backup which very often doe not work and risky for life.
12.       There are improper amenities in many flats
13.       There is no proper exterior to the building.
14.       Ceiling Leakage causing bad odor and particles falling down.
15.       Causing unhygienic condition and a threat to decease.
16.       No fire safety system completed.
17.       The problem is of Drainage/Gutter Line. The drainage line is not officially connected with the corporation line.
1.           Due to the reason of constructions by sub contractor,
2.           Delay by Material Suppliers.
3.           late government approvals,
4.           getting the completion certificate after a long wait,
5.           cement and steel procurement,
6.           50 to 60 per cent shortfall in unskilled manpower in the market.
7.           Delay in getting local approvals.

2)          Most of the developers face project delays and that a lot of the delays are not in the developer’s control. The delays on account of various reasons do affect the overall budget of a developer, increases the construction and storage cost and hit the brand image and future of the company. And this is the reason to direct impact on construction Companies.

3)          The customers always rely on top class developers who are sure of their deliveries. The well-known construction companies who are trying to get more advanced technology for construction to match their deliveries. However, the cost of adopting such technologies in India is still very high and many developers are not able to get benefit from it. Small developers, sometime having funding issues therefore suffers from delay in possession.

A consumer, as defined in section 2 (1) (d) of the Act, can file a complaint in the consumer forum against his grievance. The properties buyers are considered as consumers and finally have got a voice and a forum to air their grievances. Using consumer courts, buyers have been able to get back their money with interest or have been financially compensated besides allotment of flats by the builders.

The customer before going to the consumer forum first negotiate with the builder and ask him to carry out the repair work or to pay compensation for the deficient services in case you don’t get any action/response from builder then you may go to consumer court.
In case of delay of possession of flat, the builder is liable to refund the amount paid with interest (for the period of delay) as there has been a breach of contract, the builder would attract penalty under both Consumer Protection Act and the Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act.

In case false promise by the builder that he will give all the documents i.e original Floor plan etc. and fails to give customer should definitely go to consumer court and ask that the builder should stick to the original floor plan which was promised at the time of sale.
If the builder used defective raw materials for the construction and because of this reason leakage problems started or any other problems facing regarding quality of material you can go to the consumer court by moving it within two years from the day you take possession.
Any aggrieved party can approach civil courts for execution of awards passed by Consumer Courts.

Property buyer can present their own cases in consumer courts and do not need to engage a lawyer. The property buyer must file his complaint within two years of the dispute arising, after which it becomes outdated. A written complaint, can be filed before the District Consumer Forum for property value of up to Rupees twenty lakhs, State Commission for value up to Rupees one crore and the National Commission for value above Rupees one crore.

If there is delay in possession of the flat and the default on the part of the builder would attract penalty under both Consumer Protection Act and the Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act, 1963.

The buyers must ensure that his agreement for purchase of flat includes the clause compensation from the builder for delay in possession.
A landmark judgment recently delivered by a State Commission has ensured redress for a harassed one couple.
The State Commission found the builders guilty of ‘Deficiency in Service. The Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission directed the Builders to pay Rs 7.86 lakh as damages to the said couple and hand over possession of the flat they had bought in 2006.

According to a top minister in Consumer Affairs Ministry the government has just implemented the technology solution to enable the electronic filing of consumer complaints in the country to bring transparency and efficiency in delivering consumer justice.

The Maharashtra State Consumer Commission Mumbai recently directed a developer to shell out Rs. 20 lakh at the rate of Rs. 2,000 a day for a delay in giving possession of a shop premises to a purchaser.
The order passed by a three-member bench comprising president S B Mhase, S R Khanzode and D Dhamatkar it was held that developer was delay to give possession and occupancy certificate to the tenant. The tenant claimed damages for the delay at Rs. 2,000 per day as stipulated in the agreement. The tenant also faced grievance that a water connection wasn’t given to him. He took up the matter with the Thane district consumer forum, which ordered the builder to pay him Rs. 20,000 as an additional compensation for the “mental agony and financial loss’’.

In one of the recent judgment Mrs. Veena Khanna of New Delhi V/s. M/s. Ansal Properties and Adharshila Towers, New Delhi: Before National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi:
Due to abnormal delay in handing over the possession of flat, the Complainant had demanded refund of the deposited amount with interest @ 18% which the Opposite party refused to pay. The State Commission, Delhi.

directed the Opposite Party to refund the amount to the complainant with interest @ 13% p.a. from the date of deposit of the last installment till the date of payment of refund. In the alternative it also directed that if the Opposite Parties choose to handover the possession of the flat, the order of refund with interest will not come into operation. Complainant filed appeal the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission decided that the Complainant is required to be compensated for delay in construction of the flat and for not allotting the same to her.

Buyers can take recourse to Section 8 of the Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act, 1963, which makes a developer liable to refund the money obtained from a customer with 9 per cent interest if he is unable to justify non-completion of his project.  Judgment of consumer court for non registration of flat by builder. In the matter of M/s Universal Developers & ors v/s Mr. Indra Saini.

This appeal filed against the order passed by Additional District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Pune the builder demanded extra amount to register the sale deed. The order passed against the Developer that, Appeal stands rejected with cost of 5000/-. Cost shall be deposited in Legal Aid Fund of State Commission within three months from the date of receipt of free copy of this order. If appellant fails to deposit said cost, the Registrar shall see that certificate u/sec. 25(3) is issued for recovery of said amount.

In The secretary, South Western Railway House Building Co-operative Society v/s K. Velayudhan, RP No 454 of 2011, decided on 24-2-2011, it was held that a builder cannot refuse to pay interest on the refund, if such a refund is being sought on account of deficient service rendered by the builder, or on account of an unfair trade practice perpetrated by him.

In one of the landmark judgment in the case of the Lucknow Development Authority v/s MK Gupta (CA No 6237 of 1990 decided on 5-11-1993), the Supreme Court had made it clear: “When possession of property is not delivered within the stipulated period, the delay so caused is denial of service.” A consumer who is a victim of such delay is entitled to compensation.

A buyer should check the developer’s credibility, past projects, performance and delivery record. He should also ensure that the project is funded by a known bank and has all the approvals. A buyer is entitled to ask for a copy of the project’s drawings, duly stamped by the municipal authorities.

These shall be established for the purposes of this Act, the following agencies namely:- a Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum to be known as the “District Forum” established by the State Government with the prior approval of the Central Government in each district of the State by notification; a Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission to be known as the “State Commission” established by the State Government with the prior approval of the Central Government in the State by notification; and a National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission established by the Central Government by notification.

-      Adv. R. P. Rathod.