Two years into existence, the much-hyped Real Estate Regulatory Authority Karnataka (RERA-K) has failed to provide any real relief to the plight of homebuyers or protest them against builders who have failed to deliver.
RERA in Karnataka has been in effect since July 2017 after the RERA Act was passed by both the Houses of Parliament in March 2016. With the Act coming into force, home buyers had a hope that they will get compensation if there were delays in the delivery of a project or be protected from overcharging.
Since then, the RERA in Karnataka has only been effective in sending out warnings to web portals for featuring ongoing and ready real estate projects without RERA registration numbers. Moreover, some web portals were asked to register themselves with the regulatory authority.
But when it comes to coercive action against defaulting builders, RERA has been nothing more than a toothless tiger, activists and victims say.
In the end of 2019, RERA-K in its own publication said that it is yet to recover fines of more than Rs 100 crore from 41 real estate companies in the city.
TNM spoke to multiple victims who have complained against non-delivery of service by real estate companies but they say that multiple representations to RERA has not yielded any help.
Plot buyers of the Nadaprabhu Kempegowda Layout (NPKL) which is getting developed by government-run Bangalore Development Authority have been left in the lurch close to a year. While the layout was supposed to be ready by March 2018, no major work has begun. The plot buyers have complained to RERA multiple times in a year but till then there has been no respite for them.
Sridhar, President of NPKL Forum President, said, “It is a tragic situation for all of us at NPKL buyers forum. The orders of RERA is quite ineffective. This should be given judicial powers as now all the powers are just on paper. It is a good law brought by the central government and the respective state governments should implement it to make it as effective as possible as land is a state issue.”
Satyan Chawla who bought an apartment in Mantri Webcity apartments was due to get his ready apartment by 2016. But failing to see any work done, they approached RERA in 2019. In its March 2019 order, RERA-K ordered that Mantri should pay compensation to Satyan and many others. But will now the amount has not been paid, victims allege.
He said, “After our efforts at the National Consumer Forum failed, we approached RERA. We got a favourable order in March but there is no respite for us. Whenever we approach RERA officials, they say they have forwarded the complaint to the DC office.”
Srinivasan Shankar, Secretary of Pan India Organization Forum for People's Collective Efforts, and a noted RERA activist, said, in principal RERA-K as a quasi-judicial body has worked wonders when compared to any other forum for real estate disputes. While disputes in other legal forums may go on for a considerable time, RERA is bound to settle disputes within two months.
“So far as of now till December 31, RERA-K has delivered more than 1,000 judgements. This is a very good number when we compare it to Consumer Forum or other courts of law. While initially there were a few hiccups in the first few orders, now the only worrying issue is the implementation of the orders,” he said.
He added, “In order to cure this problem, we have been writing to the government and meeting with officials asking for a separate recovery department for recovering dues from builders or enforcing orders for over last one year and more. But unfortunately, due to frequent transfers of officials, it has not seen any progress.”
He suggested there is a clear lack of political will in helping home buyers who are being duped.
According to the current provisions, the Deputy Commissioner of the respective district has the authority to act on the RERA orders. The DC’s office itself has to issue another round of notice to the defaulter before it starts attaching properties of the developer. And further, the DC has to auction the seized property and recover the cost.
Speaking to TNM, RERA-K Secretary KS Latha Kumari confirmed that they have no authority to recover assets themselves but can only forward the detailes to the DC.
But Shankar and his fellow activists have been advocating that Karnataka follows Madhya Pradesh’s model. There a district judge level officer having powers of civil and revenue court acts as the recovery officer.