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Aggrieved home buyer: Should you file a case in RERA or civil court, which works better for you?

May 06,2024

Regardless of whether you have purchased a flat, bungalow, or a house, you have the right to file a case if you have any grievances where you feel that the RERA Act may have been violated. The Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) Act was enacted for this very purpose — to solve home buyers ‘ grievances and promote a healthy real estate market in India. It is important to consider that in some situations, taking legal action through civil court may be the best course of action or the only option available.

So, the question is how you should decide which way to move. We tell you how to choose.

As per an ANAROCK report (released in December 2023), which cited data from the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA), 1,16,300 cases of homebuyers’ disputes since 2016 till November 28, 2023, have been resolved by RERA courts across India.

One of the criteria for filing a case under RERA is that the respective home/flat/bungalow etc., must be registered under the RERA Act. Registration under the RERA Act is mandatory for every real estate project with more than eight apartments or a size of more than 500 square metres.

“Complaints can be filed by home buyers under Section 31 of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, either with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority or the adjudicating officer. Cases can be against promoters, allottees and/or real estate agents for any violation or contravention of the provisions mentioned under the RERA Act such as delay in possession, demand for advance payment above 10% without execution and registration of agreement for sale, structural defects and others,” says Heena Chheda, Partner, Economic Laws Practice, a law firm.

Chheda says that the RERA Adjudicating Officer is empowered to determine the compensation payable in matters pertaining to Sections 12, 14, 18 and 19 of the RERA Act. “The RERA Authority is empowered to adjudicate the dispute pertaining to the violation or contravention of the provisions of the RERA Act or the rules and regulations made thereunder,” she says.

“During the pre-RERA period, the industry was often seen as less transparent, with buyers frequently facing delays in project deliveries and discrepancies with amenities as promised and those that were finally delivered. Post-RERA, the industry has seen significant improvements in transparency and accountability. RERA has played a crucial role in formalizing the real estate sector while also promoting fairness and transparency in real estate deals. This has not only benefited buyers but has also provided genuine developers a level playing field,” says Prashant Sharma, President, National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO) Maharashtra.

Legal experts say that aggrieved home buyers file a case in RERA first and then approach the RERA Appellate Tribunal and then the high court and then ultimately the Supreme Court if their dispute is not solved.

“As per Section 79 of the RERA Act, Civil Courts shall not have any jurisdiction to entertain any suit or proceeding concerning matters that the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA), adjudicating officer or Appellate Tribunal is empowered to determine under the RERA Act,” says Shabala Shinde, Partner, Grant Thornton Bharat, a tax and business consultancy firm.

The RERA Act provisions are applicable in addition to existing legal Acts, which means all other Acts can be made applicable while deciding a case under the RERA Act. “The intention is to avoid duplication of legal processes and ensure consistency in resolving real estate related disputes. However, Section 88 does specify that provisions of the RERA Act shall apply in addition to and not in derogation of other applicable laws,” says Shinde.

Source: Economic Times

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