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Sunil Singh, a resident of Gurugram, continues to wait for the completion of his group housing project, where only 50 per cent of the project is complete and the authority has issued the occupancy certificate for the built apartments. “Located in Sector 84 of Gurugram, the project was launched in 2007. While half of the project has received the occupancy certificate, the remaining half is still incomplete. How can one live in a project, where you have a large excavation site and construction activity in full swing, close to your apartment?” Singh laments. In another similar case, a group of buyers in Sector 37 of Gurugram, have witnessed their project being delayed, since its launch in 2008.
Such instances reflect the slump in Haryana’s housing market, on account of delayed construction, slow investor activity and an inventory overhang. Haryana, according to a recent study by industry body ASSOCHAM (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India), has around 44 months of delays in construction and real estate projects, against the national average of 39 months. In particular, Gurugram’s market continues to witness high levels of unsold inventory and delays in projects.
In both the cases mentioned, buyers are now negotiating a deal with their builders, to finish the apartments.
The negotiations are being heard and resolved, with the help of a group of senior state officials, who are part of the Allottees’ Grievance Redressal Forum (AGRF). While Haryana aims to notify its own Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA) soon, the AGRF continues to hear complaints of grieving home buyers.
What is AGRF and its function?
Instituted in 2015, the AGRF has so far received more than 200 complaints against a number of development firms, says a senior level official at the Department of Town and Country Planning, government of Haryana, on condition of anonymity. “The forum continues to listen to a number of complaints and will continue to help troubled buyers,” he adds. The Forum has representation from departments, such as HUDA (Haryana Urban Development Authority), the Department of Town and Country Planning, etc., and acts as an arbitrator between the complainants/buyers and development firms.
It hears complaints pertaining mainly to delays in projects, slow pace of work, overcharging and refusal to refund the booking amount, in case of exit. After hearing complaints, it directs the builder firms to resolve issues with consumers on agreed terms, along with committing and adhering to a revised timeline for project completion. Home buyers in key cities such as Chandigarh, Gurugram and Faridabad, continue to take their complaints to the AGRF.
Drawback of the AGRF
However, as the AGRF does not have any legal standing, home buyers remain concerned that developers may go against the directions of the Forum. “The Forum does steer things in favour of consumers but is only recommending actions for developers. There is no legal binding to these recommendations and directions,” explains Rajeev Singh, a home buyer whose project has been delayed.
Options for aggrieved home buyers in Haryana
It is likely that the Haryana government will soon notify its own rules under the RERA, after public consultation.
“The real estate authority, will provide an avenue for grievance redressal in a timely manner,” says Jaxay Shah, president of CREDAI. The question now, is what will happen to the AGRF, once the RERA in in place in Haryana? “Although we will soon enact our own RERA rules, the AGRF will continue to work towards the resolution of issues faced by consumers,” explains Dilbag Singh Sihag, RERA Haryana committee member and chief town planner, Haryana (retired).
In the ultimate analysis, while the avenues for consumers to file their complaints will increase in the state, whether these result in decisive solutions to tackle delayed projects, remains to be seen.