By Fiona Mehta
In the matter of Mrs. Monika Agarwal and Rajesh Agarwal vs. Forum Homes Private Limited (2022) (AT006000000052322), the couple had file a complaint before MahaRERA seeking compensation for delay in possession under Section 18 of RERA. Their lawyer, Harsh Malhotra, said the allotment letter of March 31, 2015, set December 31, 2017, as the date for possession. Based on the couple’s request, the builder changed their flat to the 16th floor in September 2016 on same terms. By the end of September 2017, they had paid 92% of the Rs. 7.4 crore flat cost.
The tribunal set aside a January 2020 MahaRERA order, and said the revised date of possession on the MahaRERA website cannot be considered as the agreed date of possession and hence the buyers were entitled to refund with interest under RERA Act.
The tribunal said the “delivery date mentioned on MahaRERA’s website is revised unilaterally without consent of the complainant. Therefore, it is not binding on the complainant. Accordingly, project completion date mentioned on the website of MahaRERA cannot be taken as the agreed possession date”.
Aggrieved by a unilateral revision of the due date to December 2019, they invoked the beneficial provisions of the RERA Act and sought refund. MahaRERA, the authority which heard their complaint, rejected it after the builder said it was premature and denied any delay. The authority said the possession or delivery date was not over yet and hence the right to seek refund under Section 18 of RERA had not accrued.
The couple went in appeal. The builder’s lawyer, Saloni Sulakhe, opposing the appeal, said the project was almost ready and again denied any delay. The builder said MahaRERA rightly held the ‘last’ CC was of May 2019 for “full height of the building” up to 20 floors. The builder said when the project was registered under RERA, the due date was December 2019 but with the pandemic, it was revised to December 2021 and “as per allotment letter, agreed possession date is 36 months from date of last approval or December 2017, whichever is later and hence it would be 36 months from May 2019”. But Malhotra said the allotment letter does not even contain the word “last” before approval, a point that resonated with the tribunal.
The MahaRERA Appellate Tribunal on May 4 held the “completion date cannot keep getting extended on grant of each commencement certificate (CC)” and directed a builder to refund the almost Rs. 7 crore paid by the couple in 2015 and did not get the possession even by the revised date of December 2019.