RERA needs to use its powers to find a workable solution to revive stalled housing projects, claimed experts at WIRC of ICAI’s RERA conference

Mumbai : Real estate and construction is the second largest employment provider after agriculture and a leading contributor towards the country’s GDP. Western India Regional Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (WIRC of ICAI) organised a conference on the Real Estate Regulatory Authority or RERA on August 6, at its Mumbai head office.

The conference saw participation from expert speakers from the Real Estate, Legal and Accounting professions. Speakers who spoke included Guest of Honour Mr Anand Gupta, Chairperson, Housing and RERA Committee of the Builders Association of India (BAI); Chief Guest Dr. Harshul Savla, Builder-Director, Suvidha Lifespaces; leading RERA practitioners CA Sunil Naik and CA Aditya Zantye; leading RERA lawyers Adv. Dr. Sanjay Chaturvedi and Adv. Mithil Vinod Sampath.

The experts updated on the latest developments in RERA and matters to be taken care of while approaching RERA authorities. They deliberated on matters such as the laws, amendments and policy changes in RERA; aspects such as refunds and compensation; rights and duties of buyers; corrective actions by RERA against the builders; key points and precautions for builders and landmark judgments in RERA. There was an emphasis on finding solution towards the revival of stalled real estate projects.

RERA Bill was introduced in 2013. In December 2015, the Union cabinet approved 20 major amendments to the bill.

“WIRC of ICAI has been organising conferences to upskill, train and keep its CA members abreast of the latest happenings in all topics and aspects related to their profession. The RERA conference was organised with an objective of creating awareness about the current issues and developments with respect to RERA and the opportunities it provided for professionals such as Chartered Accountants and Lawyers. The conference helped CAs to upgrade their knowledge in matters pertaining to preparation and handling of RERA related cases. There is a great opportunity for Chartered Accountants in the area of quality certifications, as well as handling of case laws in RERA and appellate tribunal,” said CA Murtuza Kachwala, Chairman, WIRC of ICAI.

Guest of Honour Mr Anand Gupta, Chairperson, Housing and RERA Committee, BAI, was of the opinion that stalled projects are a major real estate problem in the country. Out of the 36,000 ongoing real estate projects in Maharashtra, 4,500 are declared ‘stalled’ by RERA. “RERA will have to find a fair and workable solution for the revival of stalled projects. Presently, the success rate of stalled projects revival is just 1-2%, which needs to go up significantly. Once this happens, the housing industry will no longer face any financial or funding crisis,” he said.

Adv. Mithil Vinod Sampath, said, “For stalled projects, the possible solution is that, a committee need to be formed under RERA or any other institutional platform to analyse why the projects get stalled in the first place – There could be bureaucratic delays or delays in getting valid permissions; there might be material shortage or the cost of the project increasing. RERA under section 32 to 35 and 83 to 85 have immense power to make representation to other government departments to mitigate the problems. For example, if there is material shortage, RERA could approach the competition commission to ensure monopolies do not take place and if proved so, necessary action is taken against the defaulters.

“Bureaucratic delays, which has been a perpetual issue, can be handled by granting of a single window clearance system, which will be a win-win situation. There is already a law called Maharashtra Right to Service Act (RTS), which directs a bureaucrat to clear files in a stipulated time. However, it is rarely imposed. RTS is a State Act, RERA is a Central Act. Nothing stops State government and RERA to carry out penalty to bureaucrat who do not comply time limit,” said Adv Sampath.

Chief Guest Dr. Harshul Savla, CEO, Suvidha Lifespaces, said “During the past five years, RERA has brought more professionalism from the services of an engineer, architect and a Chartered Accountant. Post RERA, there is standardisation in carpet area and interest payment in case of delays. RERA has brought in more financial discipline and better governance. Today, there is a compulsory agreement on receiving more than 10% payment from the buyers and full repayment in case of false promises.”

CA Sunil Naik said, “RERA has been a boon to home buyers and is inducing more professionalism from developers. Earlier, saleable area was a notion created by the developers to artificially increase carpet area by loading 40-65%. Now with RERA, there is no artificial loading as the developer will be selling on the basis of uniformly calculated carpet area.”

“Also, earlier there were tendency from the developers to divert funds for other projects, which disturbed project implementation and possession schedule. RERA has taken care of this with the concept of transfer of 70% of booking money collection to a designated bank account for utilisation towards cost of the project,” said CA Naik.

Adv. Dr. Sanjay Chaturvedi said, “In matters concerning RERA, affected parties should not impose their demands on professionals such as lawyers but trust their professional guidance in entirety. If a developer or an allotee are not satisfied with the RERA order, they have every right to approach an appellate tribunal. If they are still not satisfied, they can go for second appeal in a High Court,” said Adv. Chaturvedi.

CA Aditya Zantye said, “A key point to remember is that RERA has given a lot of thrust on certification for professionals including Chartered Accountants, Lawyers, Engineers and Architects. Therefore, the professionals should do the necessary due diligence before issuing certificates as there are chances for legal complications. CAs are financial doctors and should ensure there is no mis-management of funds. Engineers and Architects should ensure that the quality of materials used in the project are of the best nature. Lawyers must ensure legal compliance. Somewhere there is wrong, there are chances of project getting lapsed.”

“Today Maha RERA has established a toll-free and fully equipped citizen helpline. Quarterly updates have been made mandatory for changes in building plan approvals, physical progress of a project, booking status of plots and apartments etc.,” said CA Zantye.

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