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Ways to tackle property issues with builders

Once the buyer takes a possession of the unit, there is no bigger joy. However, the joy could well be short lived once issues related to documents, maintenance and miscellaneous repairs start cropping up. Despite following up with the builders, most home owners have a hard time tackling the property issues, often leading to conflicts.

Here are 5 undeniably “smart” and civilized ways to deal with common property issues with the builders of the housing society.

1. Organize a society meeting

Home owners, as members of the housing society, can organize a meeting to deal with the issues. For instance, the builder has to maintain and repair all major and minor structural flaws as per the building codes laid down by the regulators.

The minutes of the meeting are shared with the builder, and the action plan recommended. The builder, in consultation with the architect/ interior designer/ financier, may resort to a suitable reply within a stipulated time frame.

2. Seek NOC

In case the home owner wishes to make certain structural changes in the flat, a Non-Objection Certificate is required from the Municipal Corporation and the society. If the owner makes the changes without the permission, the society can take action according to the Bye-Laws.

In case the builder of the housing society does not approve of any structural changes or construction like additional garage shed, or terrace cover, the owner can get the plan audited by an architect with necessary changes, to avoid conflicts.

3. Understand the responsibilities of the builder

Is your terrace wall broken? Is your ceiling leaking? Are your pipelines choked? Who is responsible to get them repaired? You, or is it the builder!

According to a ruling by the Bombay High Court, terrace repairs and leakage-related issues have to be sorted out by the builder.  External leakages and blockages are builder’s responsibilities; internal leakages and repairs have to be done by the owner. If the builder does not repair the external issues, the owner can take the legal course.

4. File an RTI against the builder’s operations

The latest amendments in the housing segment empower the buyers and house owners to seek papers and operation-related documents of the builder of the housing society. In case the builder does not comply with the request, the owner can file a RTI petition.

It is imperative to suggest that the petitioner should use a very polite language in the RTI applications, without directly accusing, but using visible references and proofs of negligence on the builder’s part.

5. Approach the cooperative court or a Consumer Court

If the RTI application is rejected, or not replied to by the builder, the house owner (the petitioner) can invoke the Cooperative Courts, to mediate, resolve and order compensation from the builder of the housing society in matters pertaining to the repairs, leakages, parking issues, water supply and biased payment recoveries/ demands or for refusing to fulfill commitments promised in the Sale Agreement.

In a nut shell, a prospective buyer should always put extra efforts in assessing the quality of past projects and the reputation of the builder, in order to avoid hassles after taking the possession.

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