The Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (MahaRERA) has ordered promoters Bhoomi & Arcade Associates to return the money to five homebuyers who booked flats in their project Acropolis in Virar for delayed possession.
The five homebuyers, namely Alistair Gomes (flat no. 104), Sachin Kadam (501), Rahul Bhosale (flats 1,504, 1,505), Riyaz Jethan (flat no. 1,304) and Hitesh Shah (301) had filed complaints seeking refund of their investments in Acropolis Phase I and Phase II, a 19-tower project in Virar West on the ground that the developer had failed to deliver possession on promised dates in the agreement for sale.
They had paid different amounts under a subvention scheme where they were required to pay upfront 8 per cent of the flat cost, and 92 per cent came from bank loans. In their complaints, they mentioned that due to delayed possession, they had to seek rental accommodation and were burdened with rental expenses and hence wished to withdraw from the project.
During the hearings of the case, the developer Bhoomi and Arcade Associates claimed that the complaints had no locus standi as the financial institutions were necessary parties and since they were not named as parties, their complaints should be dismissed. The developer’s advocate also argued that the agreement had a force majeure (unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract) clause and the possession was subject to approvals from authorities, and timely availability of materials, and hence the firm cannot be held responsible for the delay in possession.
The developer’s advocate argued that Housing Development and Infrastructure Limited (HDIL) was granted development rights for a rental housing scheme of MMRDA under which this project was proposed by the developer and HDIL had to obtain all relevant clearances. He alleged that it failed to obtain clearance from the Pollution Control Board, and hence the developer failed to get Occupation Certificate from Vasai Virar Municipal Corporation (VVMC).
Holding that all the five home buyers were entitled to a refund of their respective investments, MahaRERA member Madhav Kulkarni observed in his order “No doubt the agreements show that the land was acquired from HDIL which had evolved housing schemes. On that basis, the respondent floated the present scheme. However, HDIL is not a party to the present agreements. The respondent was himself dealing with HDIL. Now, he cannot hide behind the said party to defend delay in delivery of possession,” the September 27 order said.
Kulkarni said obtaining OC from VVMC was the responsibility of the developer, and being a professional builder, he knew how the corporation functions. “Grant of completion certificate is not an unforeseen event. Once a builder completes all formalities as provided under rules, the rejection of Occupation Certificate is not possible. The rejection occurs only when compliances under Rules is not made. Likewise, the clearance from Pollution Control Board will not be withheld if all compliances under Rules are made. If some compliances are not done by the respondent, he has to blame himself for that,” the order observed.
Kulkarni then directed the developer to refund their investments with 10.65 per cent interest from the date of their payment to the home buyers subject to the buyers repaying the loan of financial institutions. He also imposed an amount of Rs 50,000 on the developer towards the cost of the complaints. Chaitya Mehta, director of Bhoomi and Arcade Associates, said, “No comments.’’