After the enactment of Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, aggrieved buyers can either approach Real Estate Regulatory Authority or National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission for filing of complaints pertaining to real estate disputes.
National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) is thrashing builders by imposing stringent penalties. Recently NCDRC ordered Unitech to pay a penalty of 12% per annum for the delay in delivery of flats. Any aggrieved consumer can seek relief by filing a complaint before the consumer courts. On the other hand, RERA is the cardinal forum for administering the real estate sector starting from registering of projects with RERA to the filing of complaints about delays in possession.
With these two options available at the disposal of the real estate buyer, let’s examine which is a better alternative to register complaints.
RERA is the special enactment which is applicable only to real estate projects whereas Consumer Protection Act deals with any matter pertaining to defect in good or deficiency in services consumed by consumers. Hence, RERA is a specialised body meant for adjudicating real estate disputes. This Act also makes real estate agent accountable for their role in the selling of real estate projects and the aggrieved buyers can also file a complaint against them.
Under RERA investigations can be conducted on a complaint by a buyer or suo moto but NCDRC has no power to conduct investigations.
There is an ease of filing of complaints with RERA as opposed to NCDRC because of two reasons. First, you can file a complaint before the regulatory authority of the state where your property is situated whereas in the case of a consumer complaint you have to file the complaint depending on the pecuniary limits. State commissions can entertain complaints only up to the limit of INR 1 crore. So in case if the value of your property is more than INR 1 crore then you will have to approach NCDRC. There are no pecuniary limits while filing a claim under RERA.
Secondly, a complaint before NCDRC needs to be filed on a plain paper with documentary evidence and there is a specified format for filing a complaint before RERA.
Individual persons can also file complaints under RERA whereas only registered purchasers and allottees can file complaints.
Under RERA, an errant developer can be imprisoned for up to three years. NCDRC does not have any power to imprison a builder.
The advantages of filing a case under NCDRC is that after the verdict from NCDRC the only court of appeal is Supreme Court as opposed to RERA, where after the order of real estate regulatory authority an appeal can be filed to real estate appellate authority and after the appellate authority to the High court of the state where the property is situated and then finally to Supreme Court. This implies that the finality of orders is faster under NCDRC as compared to RERA.
In situations where the flat or the apartment has been delivered but has some deficiency or any sort of defect in the flat then one can approach NCDRC as the projects that have received completion certificates are outside the purview of RERA.
Though RERA has been enforced and it is set to instill transparency and accountability in the real estate sector only time can decide the effectiveness of dispute resolution mechanism under RERA.
Till then the aggrieved home-buyers should consider filing cases before NCDRC for delayed possession.
For legal assistance regarding filing such cases, contact LawRato.