By Accommodation Times News Service
Former tenants of redeveloped building in Maharashtra can move consumer forum. The commission recently refuted a builder’s contention that after purchasing a property from the original owner, conflicts between him, now as the landlord, and the tenant were not maintainable under the Act
In an important order that will provide solace to city tenants awaiting their redeveloped flats, the state consumer commission has brought disputes between them and their developers under the Consumer Protection Act’s purview.
The commission recently refuted a builder’s contention that after purchasing a property from the original owner, conflicts between him, now as the landlord, and the tenant were not maintainable under the Act.
“There was a specific agreement between the complainant and the opponent (the developer) by which the complainant agreed to surrender his tenancy right in the flat in the old building and, in lieu of that, the opponent agreed to provide a flat in the new building. In view of that agreement between the parties, there is a relationship of a consumer and a service provider,” the commission said. The commission ordered Reegal Enterprises to hand over to the complainant, Mukund Modi, his redeveloped 580-square-foot flat in Sion along with a copy of the occupation certificate within forty-five days, alongwith all the promised amenities. Additionally, Modi will receive a total amount of around Rs 15 lakh, which includes Rs 2 lakh the developer was to pay him while handing over the flat, Rs 3 lakh as compensation for causing inconvenience and Rs 10 lakh as rent amount for alternate accommodation.
Consumer lawyer Uday Wavikar said those agreements that are signed on a tri-party basis between a tenant, a developer and a landlord under the Maharashtra Ownership of Flats Act (MOFA) give the tenant ownership rights to a new flat in a redeveloped building.“Every individual tenant who surrenders his tenancy right for ownership with the developer and the landlord is a consumer under the Act, making the developer a service provider. All tenants entering into such agreements should take note. Not many are aware that they are consumers who can seek relief under the Consumer Protection Act. The Act not only provides relatively speedier justice but also provides for enforceability,” he said.
Modi, who is now based in Kandivli, had filed the complaint before the Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in 2014. As per the agreement on February 19, 2010, Modi surrendered his old flat to the developer. Modi said the developer was under an obligation to hand over peaceful, vacant and permanent possession of the flat on or before May 19, 2012, along with the occupation and building completion certificates. He alleged the developer did not complete construction in time nor provide basic amenities such as water and power. Aggrieved, he moved the state commission. The commission found the building was complete but the developer had not procured the OC. Despite this, he had asked the tenants to move into their flats. The certificate was obtained only after the complaint was filed. The commission also found several other amenities were provided during pendency of the complaint.