July 2017 | Back to all Real Estate Articles
The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA), intends to protect the interests of home buyers and enhance transparency in the real estate sector. We examine how it will affect various stakeholders – from home buyers and builders, to brokers – and the provisions and penalties prescribed under the act
The Government of India enacted the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act 2016 on 26th March 2016 and all its provisions came into effect, from May 1, 2017.
The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA) is an Act passed by the Indian Parliament. The RERA seeks to protect the interests of home buyers and also boost investments in the real estate sector. The Rajya Sabha passed the RERA bill on March 10, 2016, followed by the Lok Sabha on March 15, 2016 and it came into force from May 1, 2016. 59 of its 92 sections were notified on May 1, 2016 and the remaining provisions came into force from May 1, 2017. Under the Act, the central and state governments, are required to notify their own rules under the Act, six months, on the basis of the model rules framed under the central Act.
For long, home buyers have complained that real estate transactions were lopsided and heavily in favour of the developers. RERA and the government’s model code, aim to create a more equitable and fair transaction between the seller and the buyer of properties, especially in the primary market. RERA, it is hoped, will make real estate purchase simpler, by bringing in better accountability and transparency, provided that states do not dilute the provisions and the spirit of the central act.
The RERA will give the Indian real estate industry its first regulator. The Real Estate Act makes it mandatory for each state and union territory, to form its own regulator and frame the rules that will govern the functioning of the regulator.
Some of the important compliances are:
The most positive aspect of this Act is that it provides a unified legal regime for the purchase of flats; apartments, etc., and seeks to standardise the practice across the country. Below are certain key highlights of the Act:
Establishment of the regulatory authority: The absence of a proper regulator (like the Securities Exchange Board of India for the capital markets) in the real estate sector, was long felt. The Act establishes Real Estate Regulatory Authority in each state and union territory. Its functions include protection of the interests of the stakeholders, accumulating data at a designated repository and creating a robust grievance redressal system. To prevent time lags, the authority has been mandated to dispose applications within a maximum period of 60 days; and the same may be extended only if a reason is recorded for the delay. Further, the Real Estate Appellate Authority (REAT) shall be the appropriate forum for appeals.
Compulsory registration: According to the central act, every real estate project (where the total area to be developed exceeds 500 sq mtrs or more than 8 apartments is proposed to be developed in any phase), must be registered with its respective state’s RERA. Existing projects where the completion certificate (CC) or occupancy certificate (OC) has not been issued, are also required to comply with the registration requirements under the Act. While applying for registration, promoters are required to provide detailed information on the project e.g. land status, details of the promoter, approvals, schedule of completion, etc. Only when registration is completed and other approvals (construction related) are in place, can the project be marketed.
Reserve account: One of the primary reasons for delay of projects was that funds collected from one project, would invariably be diverted to fund new, different projects. To prevent such a diversion, promoters are now required to park 70% of all project receivables into a separate reserve account. The proceeds of such account can only be used towards land and construction expenses and will be required to be certified by a professional.
Continual disclosures by promoters: After the implementation of the Act, home buyers will be able to monitor the progress of the project on the RERA website since promoters will be required to make periodic submissions to the regulator regarding the progress of the project.
Title representation: Promoters are now required to make a positive warranty on his right title and interest on the land, which can be used later against him by the home buyer, should any title defect be discovered. Additionally, they are required to obtain insurance against the title and construction of the projects, proceeds of which shall go to the allottee upon execution of the agreement of sale.
Standardisation of sale agreement: The Act prescribes a standard model sale agreement to be entered into between promoters and homebuyers. Typically, promoters insert punitive clauses against home buyers which penalised them for any default while similar defaults by the promoter attracted negligible or no penalty. Such penal clauses could well be a thing of the past and home buyers can look forward to more balanced agreements in the future.
Penalty: To ensure that violation of the Act is not taken lightly, stiff monetary penalty (up to 10% of the project cost) and imprisonment has been prescribed against violators.
The area of a property is often calculated in three different ways – carpet area, built-up area and super built-up area. Hence, when it comes to buying a property, this can leads to a lot of disconnect, between what you pay and what you actually get.
Gautam Chatterjee, Maharashtra RERA chairman, explains that “It is now mandatory for the developers of all ongoing projects, to disclose the size of their apartments, on the basis on carpet area (i.e., the area within four walls). This includes usable spaces, like kitchen and toilets. This imparts clarity, which was not the case earlier.”
According to the RERA, carpet area is defined as ‘the net usable floor area of an apartment, excluding the area covered by the external walls, areas under services shafts, exclusive balcony or verandah area and exclusive open terrace area, but includes the area covered by the internal partition walls of the apartment’.
Rahul Shah, CEO of Sumer Group, points out that “As per the RERA guidelines, a builder must disclose the exact carpet area, so that a customer knows what he is paying for. However, the act does not make it mandatory for the builders, to sell a flat on the basis of carpet area.”
Initially, a lot of work is to be done to get the existing and new project registered. Details such as status of each project executed in last 5 years, promoter details, detailed execution plans, etc., needs to be prepared.
With the advent of RERA, specialised forums such as the State Real Estate Regulatory Authority and the Real Estate Appellate Tribunal, will be established for the resolution of disputes pertaining to home buying and the aggrieved party will have no recourse to other consumer forums and civil courts, on such matters. While the RERA sets the groundwork for fast-tracking dispute resolution, the litmus test for its success, will depend on the timely setting up of these new dispute resolution bodies and how these disputes are resolved expeditiously with a degree of finality.
Under the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA), real estate agents will need to register themselves, to be able to facilitate a transaction. The broker segment in India, is estimated to be a USD 4 billion industry, with an estimated 5,00,000 to 9,00,000 brokers. However, it has traditionally been unorganised and unregulated.
“It will bring a lot of accountability in the industry and the ones who believe in professional and transparent business, will reap all the benefits. Now, the agents will have a much larger and responsible role to perform, as they will have to disclose all the appropriate information to the customer and even help them chose a RERA-compliant developer,” says Sam Chopra, founder and chairman of RE/MAX India.
With RERA in force, brokers cannot promise any amenities or services that are not mentioned in the documents. Moreover, they will have to provide all information and documents to the home buyers, at the time of booking. Consequently, RERA is likely to filter out the inexperienced, unprofessional, fly-by-night operators, as brokers not following the guidelines will face hefty penalty or jail or both.
Digbijoy Bhowmik, head of policy, RICS, explains, “Complaints can be filed under Section 31 of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, either with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority or the adjudicating officer. Such complaints may be against promoters, allottees and/or real estate agents. Most state government rules, made appurtenant to the RERA, have laid out the procedure and form, in which such applications can be made. In the case of Chandigarh UT or Uttar Pradesh, for instance, these are placed as Form ‘M’ or Form ‘N’ (common with most other states and union territories).”
A complaint under the RERA, is required to be in the form prescribed under the respective states’ rules. The complaint can be filed with respect to a project registered under RERA, within the prescribed time limit, for violation or contravention of provisions of the act or the rules or regulations framed under RERA.
“For cases pending before the NCDRC or other consumer fora, the complainants/ allottees can withdraw the case and approach the authority under the RERA. Other offences (except complaints under Section 12, 14, 18 and 19) can be filed before the RERA authority,” explains Ajay Monga, partner at SNG & Partners law firm.
|Applicable sections||Offences committed||Applicable penalties|
|Section 9 (7)||
||Revocation of Agent Registration Number|
|Section 62||Contravention of Section-9 & Section 10||Penalty of INR 10,000/-day during which the default continues extending up to 5% of cost of unit sold|
|Section 65||Contravention of orders of RERA authorities||Penalty up to 5% of cost of unit sold|
|Section 66||Contravention of orders of Appellate tribunal||Imprisonment for up to 1 year or with fine extend up to 10% of cost of unit sold|