One of the prime objects for RERA regulations was to set up separate grievance redressal system i.e. RERA complaints redressal relating to real estate industry which has been done diligently in various states so far. The main object of setting up of this Act to protect and safeguard the interests of homebuyers. Till now, in many states this Act is proving to be a boon as many homebuyers have received satisfactory remedies from RERA.
Recently, the Haryana Real Estate Regulatory Authority (HRERA) has given utmost importance to the interest of homebuyers where it held that rights of the allottees are superior compared with other creditors, and directed a builder company to refund the entire money invested by the home buyers in its abandoned project. It also said that all the complainant, as well as other similarly placed allottees of the disputed project, shall have a superior right to satisfy the claims for refund of money along with interest over the rights of any other person including Financial Institutions and other creditors of any kind.
The bench was deciding complaints moved by 21 home buyers who had invested in a housing project of M/s Piyush Colonisers Ltd. In this, the aggrieved homebuyer had paid Rs 26.25 lakh for purchasing an apartment in the project of the builder which constitutes about 85% of the total sales consideration. The deemed date of delivery of the apartment was April 2015 but the project was far from completion and was in fact, abandoned for the last many years with no construction work taking place. Despite repeated efforts, the aggrieved homebuyer was not able to communicate with the builder. Criminal complaints were filed on multiple occasions but nothing worked out for the homebuyer.
Since the project has been abandoned for past many years, even the structure which was constructed at the site was also deteriorated. The authority observed that the builder have put allottees in serious difficulties as the builder did not seem to have the resources to revive the project. The authority also took note of the lackadaisical attitude of the state agencies in cases of stuck up real estate projects as it noted that Director, Town & Country Planning Department, Haryana, had not even cared to respond to its notice issued in October, 2018. The authority further said that it is not even clear whether they have inspected the site or not which reflects that DTCP is failing in discharging its legal duties and responsibilities spelt out by way of conditions of license. It is the license granted by the Director which has given birth to the project and Director is duty bound to take remedial actions if the project is not developed in time but they have failed to do so.
Coming to the grant of relief to the homebuyers, the authority observed that it appears that there is no scope for completion of the project in near future as the Builders are in jail. Also, faith of the homebuyers is completely eroded in the project as it is already delayed by more than 3 and half years and keeping in view the current stage of its construction, it may take further many more years. The authority said that the homebuyers obviously can’t wait till the time unknown to even builders and deserved to be granted relief as provided in Section 18 of the RERA Act, 2016.
The authority said that all the complainants, as well as other similarly placed allottees of the disputed project of the respondent company, shall have a superior right to satisfy the claims for refund of money along with interest over the rights of any other person including Financial Institutions and other creditors of any kind. If claims of the allottees are not fully satisfied from the Assets of the project in question, the allottees shall be treated as creditors of the builders at par with other creditors for the satisfaction of their claims from the Assets of the promoters other than the Assets of the project in question. The authority further said that the Director, Town and Country Planning Department, Haryana is duty bound to protect the interest of the allottees and to ensure that the project on the licence land is completed in accordance with sanctioned plans. The director shall immediately take steps to take over the project and get it completed in the manner considered appropriate. The director shall take over the project regardless of any other proceedings pending against the project assets. HRERA while passing the order, directed the Executive Director of the authority to take stringent action and file a suo motu complaint against the respondent M/s Piyush Colonisers Limited and also implead Director, Town and Country Planning Department, Haryana, for monitoring follow-up actions taken on the directions. HRERA tried to protect the interest of homebuyers in every possible manner by ordering that the complainant and others similarly placed allottees may present this order before any authority or court dealing with liquidation of assets of the project as well as other assets of the builder’s company and seek satisfaction of the same on priority. It is however made clear that the claims of the allottees shall be restricted to the refund of the money paid by them to the builder along with interest as provided in Rule 15 of the HRERA Rules, 2017.