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Consumer court orders BDA to refund flat owner’s ‘free’ maintenance charges

In 2017, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) had put up for sale flats in Malagala 2nd Stage, Nagarabhavi 8th Block, but few people took up the offer, as reported by DH in February that year. 

To attract buyers, BDA officials introduced a slew of offers, one of which was exempting flat buyers from paying maintenance fees for two years, from July 25, 2018, to July 24, 2020. 

S Ramachandra was one such buyer, who saw that report in the papers and decided to encash in on the opportunity. He was allocated a flat by the BDA at the Brahmagiri apartments — part of the second phase of the Malagala Housing Project — on September 11, 2018. 

A year later, he confirmed the validity of BDA’s free maintenance charge offer from the authority itself via an RTI response dated September 26, 2019. 

However, Ramachandra and other apartment owners were demanded electrical maintenance charges by the apartment owner welfare association, which prompted him to begin paying both Bescom and the BWSSB directly via cheques. 

Finding this to be in conflict with the BDA’s admission of free maintenance, he filed a consumer complaint against BDA, the construction firm Ramalingam Construction Company Pvt Ltd, and the Brahmagiri Owner Welfare Association. 

BDA representatives contended that Ramachandra had misinterpreted the maintenance costs and clarified that the BDA notification excluded BWSSB and Bescom deposits, the payments of which must be borne by the flat residents themselves. As evidence, Ramachandra presented both the newspaper article and the BDA’s RTI response acknowledging the legitimacy of the article’s claims of a two-year maintenance-free offer to flat buyers. He also presented the BDA’s letter dated June 11, 2019, which directed all flat allottees who registered their flats that year to bear maintenance charges, to justify his claims for just entitlement since he was allocated a flat much earlier. 

The court found Ramachandra’s plea for a refund justified and ordered all three parties to jointly pay the total of maintenance charges paid, amounting to Rs 21,904, to the complainant at an interest rate of 9 per cent. The parties must also pay Rs 10,000 as compensation and litigation costs. 

Dec 26,2023

Source: Deccanherald

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