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Checklist For First-Time Homebuyers
By Gajanan Khergamker

Considering that property has become such a significant and expensive commodity in the past couple of decades, there are always a number of corrupt builders out there who want to make a quick buck and dupe unsuspecting buyers. To avoid such situations, it is necessary for prospective buyers to get into the prescribed form of agreement instead of signing the one given by a builder which could have additions and alterations working to his benefit.

Very often, crooked builders drafted agreements which included terms and conditions that were contrary to the provisions of The Maharashtra Ownership of Flats Act and Rules as well as the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act. To combat this, the authorities made amendments providing a prescribed agreement form to protect the interests of innocent buyers. The particulars of the prescribed form are mentioned below:

• If a building is to be constructed, it is the liability of the Promoter to construct it according to the plans and specifications approved by the local authority where such approval is required under any law which is in force at the time;
• The agreement should specify the date by which the possession of the flat is to be handed over to the Purchaser;
• It should clearly mention the extent of the carpet area of the flat including the area of the balconies which should be shown separately;
• It should specify the price of the flat plus the costs including the proportionate price of the common areas and facilities (should be shown separately) which are to be paid by a purchaser and the intervals of instalment that have to be made;
• The agreement should plainly inform the purchaser of the precise nature of the organisation that is to be constituted by the other persons who have taken or will take the remaining flats in the building;
• It should include the nature, extent and description of the common area and facilities;
• The agreement should clearly state the use for which the flat is intended and also impose restrictions if any;
• The agreement should also have a certificate by an Attorney-at-law or advocate under clause (a) of sub-section (2) of section 3;
• It should also have attachments of the Property Card or extract of Village Forms VI, VII and XII or any other relevant revenue record showing the nature of the title of the Promoter to the land on which the flats are constructed or are to be constructed.
• The agreement should also have plans and specifications of the flat as approved by the concerned local authorities.

Read The Fine-Print Carefully Before Signing Up
By Gajanan Khergamker

If you take the claims made by a developer in a brochure or on a website seriously, you could be in for some serious trouble. Every developer makes claims of providing amenities that are world class and simply the best in the business. The onus of checking out his credentials rests upon you.As an astute buyer, you need to double check assurances of swimming pools, shopping options, gymnasiums, malls in the vicinity and the works as promised in brochures and on websites. It makes sense to take tall claims of amenities with a pinch of salt and be ready for contingencies wherein there’s scope of redress for non-performance.

You may not have an issue with renowned developers have a reputation to protect and almost always deliver whatever has been assured during the stage of construction with the exception of a few ‘luxuries’ that are ‘adjusted’ against freshly provided others with the buyers’ knowledge and consent. There are, however, several occasions when a few shady developers fail to deliver some very basic amenities to buyers despite promising the same.

A buyer must take his time to ensure that the promises made, before a deal, are delivered. Or else, the issues that arise later while attempting to get an errant developer to cough up damages or deliver as assured can be a huge cause of worry.

The one issue that affects most home buyers is water. On completion of the building, developers are supposed to apply for an occupancy certificate only after which can flat-owners obtain water from civic authorities. Just in case the occupation certificate is not provided, home-owners are left with little option but to pay up a fortune for water fetched through tankers or through the BMC at market prices.

Within six months of completion of a minimum of 12 flats, a builder has to form a society by law. The developer is also bound by the Maharashtra Flat Owners’ Act to convey the property in the name of the society but unscrupulous builders conveniently delay the process, leaving bonafide buyers in a lurch.

There is the option of either approaching a co-operative court, civil court or criminal court in case of any transgression by the builder. If a building hasn’t been registered as a co-operative society, he could approach a criminal court and file a suit under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code for cheating against the builder.

Sadly, since more often than not, legal procedures are lengthy and can cost a fortune; most home-owners prefer to avoid moving court and instead opt for a settlement. A buyer needs to ensure they study the fine print in sale deeds and documents instead of mulling over trivia to ensure he doesn’t land in a mess. Often, most ‘luxury’ amenities offered by developers come with riders that are very smartly concealed by the use of legal jargon. Also, most home-owners don’t stand a chance of pulling up shady builders who’re adept at the business and leave little that can hold any ground against them in a court of law.