Maharashtra passes Bill to regulate property transactions

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(Authored by Anil Nair) The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly recently passed the Maharashtra Housing (Regulation and Development) Bill.  This is the first such Bill to be passed by any state, which sets up a housing regulator to regulate property transactions.  The Bill seeks to set up a Housing Regulatory Authority to provide for relief to flat purchasers against sundry abuses, malpractices and difficulties related to the construction, sale, management and transfer of flats. According to news reports, the government felt that existing laws were not effective in protecting the interests of the flat purchasers and allowed the promoters to avoid statutory obligations imposed on them.  The Maharashtra Ownership Flats (Regulation of the promotion of construction, sale, management and transfer) Act, 1963 did not provide for an effective implementing arm for its various statutory provisions, as the buyers could only approach consumer forum or civil court for acts of omission or commission regarding its provisions. The current Bill passed by the Maharashtra Assembly proposes to repeal the 1963 Act.  As per the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill, the Regulatory Authority will strive to encourage growth and promotion of a healthy, transparent, efficient and competitive real estate market.

 The Bill specifies several conditions to be fulfilled by the developer to further transparency and fairness.  All projects proposing to develop more than four flats or of land area exceeding 250 square meters have to submit and update details of the project on the website of the Housing Regulatory Authority.  Developers would be required to disclose detailed information regarding the project including:

  • building-wise time schedule of completion of each phase of the project,
  • time schedule for connecting the project with the municipal services such as sewerage, water supply, electricity, drainage etc.,
  • nature of fixtures and fittings with regard to the flooring and sanitary fittings including the brand or the price range if the items are unbranded.

Failure to give possession of the flat on the agreed date would require repayment of the full amount paid by the buyer with interest.  The Authority would also be empowered to penalise the developer up to an amount of one crore rupees for non-compliance with provisions in the Bill.  Among other initiatives to assist the real estate industry, the Housing Regulatory Authority would promote rating of projects and of promoters, by the association of promoters, to improve the confidence level of investors and consumers through self-regulation. The full text of the Bill is available on the Government of Maharashtra website.