Homebuyers stand to benefit from the approval of the Real Estate Bill
With the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill cleared by both houses of Parliament, it is only a matter of time before the regulatory mechanism is set up by all states.
Many malpractices within the sector, responsible for lack of consumer confidence and plummeting sales, are likely to get curbed with this Bill.
No profiting from information asymmetry: Earlier, developers took undue advantage of the fact that less information was available to the buyer than to them. Take one instance.
The builder would tell a customer that land acquisition had been completed for his project.
But not reveal that only 80 per cent had been completed, and he was embroiled in litigation over a patch of 20 per cent. Unfortunately, the apartment he sold to the buyer could have been slotted in the project plan on that very patch.
So even if the rest of the project got delivered on time, this customer’s possession got delayed.
Statutory permissions have been another major cause of delay.
At the time of selling, the developer would confidently tell buyers all permissions would come through in a few months. Later, the project would get delayed in the absence of some.
Now, registered projects must disclose a lot of accurate information — status of land acquisition, statutory approvals, layout plan, etc — to the regulator, which will put it up on its website.
No playing around with buyers’ money: A common practice among developers was to raise money from buyers for one project but not use it to complete that one.
They would use the money to buy land which would enable them to launch another project and raise more money from a new set of buyers.
This inevitably led to delays in delivery and hassles for buyers.
The latter would have to bear the burden of monthly instalments and rent simultaneously, and in case of a delay beyond three years, lose the tax benefit on their home loan.
With the Bill making it mandatory that 70 per cent of money raised from sales in a project will have to be put in an escrow account (states have the freedom to reduce this figure to 50 per cent), developers will find it difficult to divert money from one project to another.
“This clause will prevent shortage of funds and ensure timely delivery,” says Ashutosh Limaye, head of research at JLL India.
No discrepancy in penalties: In the past, if the buyer delayed payments, he had to pay a high rate of interest.
But, if the developer delayed on delivery, he paid a pittance. “Even this money would at times not be paid but be adjusted against final payment from the buyer,” says Pradeep Mishra, research head, indiazhousing.com.
Suppose a person purchased a 2-BHK flat of 1,100 sq ft for Rs 50 lakh. If he delayed payment, the interest would be as high as 18-24 per cent per year.
At 18 per cent, this translated into Rs 75,000 per month.
If the developer delayed payment, he would pay Rs 5-10 per sq ft per month. On an apartment of 1,100 sq ft, this would translate into barely Rs 5,500 per month.
This practice will end because the Bill specifies that penalties for both parties will be at par.
No changes in project plan at late stage: Developers would sell a project to buyers by painting an attractive picture but later change the building plans and specifications. For instance, the builder might have sold an apartment block with the proposition that it offers a view of the sea.
Later, a new set of apartments would come up, blocking this view.
Similarly, new apartment blocks would come up in what was earmarked as a green area. Another practice was to come up with an affordable housing component in what had been promoted as a luxury project.
Such shenanigans will have to end, with the Bill making it mandatory for the developer to get the permission of two-third of buyers to make changes to project plan.
“Developers will have to be very careful at the time of planning, as it will become difficult to change at a later stage.
They will also have to stick to their commitments to buyers,” says Sanjay Dutt, managing director, India, Cushman & Wakefield.
On the flip side, the need to get two-third consensus could also mean delays.
No delay in handing over charge to RWA: Developers would at times try to delay handing over charge of the project because they stood to benefit from this.
“If the FSI (floor space index) norm was increased in that area, the developer would be the beneficiary, as he could construct and sell more,” says Limaye.
Delaying the hand over would also allow errant developers to charge high rates for services and maintenance. The Bill makes it compulsory to form a resident welfare association after three months of handing over of a majority of units in the project.
Experts are hailing the Bill as a landmark event.
“It will bring transparency and accountability, offer protection to customers and give them the confidence to invest in real estate,” says Anshuman Magazine, chairman and managing director, CBRE South Asia. Nonetheless, buyers should not lower their guard right away.
SOME ADDITIONAL BENEFITS
- Pay cost of apartment based on carpet area, easier to measure
- Pay lower interest charges on delayed payment to developer
- No need to bear burden of EMI and rent simultaneously
- Earn rent from your apartment and use it to part-pay EMI
- Pay lower maintenance charges if resident welfare association formed on time
The image is used for representational purpose only. Photograph: Reuters
Sanjay Kumar Singh in Mumbai
Deep in the Himalayas, on the border between China and India, lies the Kingdom of Bhutan, which has pledged to remain carbon neutral for all time. In this illuminating talk, Bhutan’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay shares his country’s mission to put happiness before economic growth and set a world standard for environmental preservation.
This column is about aspiring engineering, technological and medical students who finally made it because there was someone anonymous in a quiet corner of the world, willing to write a cheque and transform their destiny.Shital Shinde’s Solapur family lived in a single room, prayed for rain and depended on the largesse of their extended family. Shital wasn’t deterred; she scored 92 per cent in SSC, 90 per cent in HSC, 94 per cent in PCB (Physics, Chemistry and Biology) and got the 509th rank in the Maharashtra CET. Most would have been elated; Shital was defeated. She secured a seat in B J Medical College (Pune) but there was no money to sustain it. Foundation For Excellence heard and arranged for a scholarship. Shital secured 68 per cent in the first year and now intends to specialise in gynaecology and work in rural India.
Rajarshi Bhowmik was born to a struggling family in a coastal Bengal town. He studied by a kerosene lamp. His real challenge began when he completed his school examination. A larger educational investment was now needed: books, coaching and study materials for the entrance examinations. The school principal connected him to the FFE facilitator who arranged the funding. Relieved, Bhowmik secured a spot in the top 10 of the 12th standard board exam and a rank within the top 2 per cent in the engineering entrance exam. Now came an even bigger challenge: the college fees of around Rs 3 lakh. FFE offered to pay the interest of an education loan for four years. The result: Rajarshi completed his B Tech and is employed in an MNC.
Akshaya Kumar G came from a family dependent on the meagre income of an elderly, priestly father. Since he attended a school within the Gurukul education system, he had to be mainstreamed for class ten. He appeared for his SSC exams privately, secured 95.5 per cent, joined the PUC (science stream), struggled with English but reported 94.6 per cent in HSC. Since he hoped to pursue engineering, he was selected as an FFE scholar and went on to top the university. He was part of the college team that entered the final of Robozest (IIT Mumbai event). He seeks to pursue his post-graduation from IISC Bangalore in Astrophysics and possibly one day work for ISRO.
Yogita’s father passed away in November 2014 and the family was reduced to a meal a day.From the sixth standard, a government scholarship accounted for Yogita’s education and hostel. Yogita ranked 946 in her CET exam, which obtained her a place at Shri Vasantrao Naik Government Medical College (Yavatmal). Same problem: no funds. FFE stepped in. Yogita now intends to specialise in gynaecology and plans to complete her post-graduation from AIIMS.
Chitralekha Gurumayum from Imphal comes from a family where her alcoholic father is an occasional mason and chauffeur, while her mother stitches handmade traditional blankets. Chitralekha was exempt from paying fees through school as she was always ranked first.When she was confused about her educational direction, her school principal helped; she passed HSC with 74.9 per cent. She secured the 202nd rank in her first medical entrance exam; she re-attempted it and came 34th. The game was virtually over there were no family jewels to sustain her journey through Jawaharlal Institute of Medical Sciences (Imphal). FFE stepped in as the white knight. Chitralekha cleared her first year MBBS with ranked 34th and second year MBBS with a rank of 39(64 per cent).
Venkataraghavan Hegde walked 5 kilometres to take the bus to school, and occasionally missed it when an overflowing river swallowed the bridge. He secured a decent ranking in the state CET exam (1315), which got him an engineering seat in the prestigious BMS College of Engineering. The important question: `How does one pay for the fees and accommodation?’ FFE said don’t worry: it funded the college tuition fees and text books and gave him guidance as well. Today, Venkataraghavan is a graduate engineer working with Delphi Automotive Systems.
So what is Foundation For Excellence? An NGO started by venture capitalists Dr Prabhu Goel and Poonam Goel focused on life transformation of academically brilliant (but financially needy) Indian students, by awarding meritcum-means scholarships. FFE awards scholarships to students pursuing degrees in Engineering, Technology and Medicine in India. The scholarship amount is Rs. 40,000 a year for Engineering (Rs. 1.60 lakh over four years) and Medicine (Rs 2 lakh over five years). The family income cut-off: less than Rs 1.80 lakhannum.
The numbers are staggering. Since 1994, FFE has assisted more than 15,000 scholars and given out more than 38,000 scholarships in excess of Rs 66 crore across 25 states.
The best part: the people funding FFE are names that seldom get the applause for transforming prospects. Cognizant. IBM. Capgemini. HP. Google. Sonus Networks. Bosch. Trent.Ashok Leyland. Caterpillar. Praxair. Amdocs.Bally Technologies. Oracle. DISA Technologies.And a number of foundations and private individuals working below the radar.
There is a lovely quote by Isaac Newton about seeing further only because he once stood on the shoulders of giants. Applies here as well.
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Chandigarh may soon make solar rooftop plants mandatory for all houses and buildings occupying plots larger than 100 square yards in a first of its kind clean energy drive in the country.
A notification to this effect is expected shortly, said Santosh Kumar, director of Chandigarh Renewable Energy Science and Technology Promotion Society (CREST), an arm of the union territory’s department of science and technology.
CREST is in talks with Chandigarh administrator Kaptan Singh Solanki to get the urban planning department to issue a notification to this effect. “They are likely to issue it within this month,” said Kumar.
A consumer forum recently ordered Juhu-based Ramee Guestline Hotel and Jay Ambe Valet Parking to pay a total compensation of Rs 7.55 lakh to a patron of the hotel after his SUV parked by a valet was stolen from the premises in 2012. The order was passed ex parte, in the absence of the representatives of the hotel and valet parking agent.
Referring to the FIR filed for vehicle theft and the notice sent to the opposite parties, the Additional Mumbai Suburban District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum said, “It shows that the vehicle was entrusted to Guddu Jha, an employee of the opponent parties. Therefore, the opponents are liable for the act of their agent, for deficiency of service on his part.”
The complaint was filed by Ramgirish Sahani and his son, Rahul, from Khar. Rahul and his friends visited the hotel in a Tata Safari on November 3, 2012. Rahul gave the keys to Jha, who was employed by the hotel to park vehicles of guests, at 12.15am.
Rahul said Jha assured him about his identity and safe parking of the vehicle. A valet parking receipt was also issued to Rahul. The complaint stated that at 2.45am, when Rahul left the hotel, he produced the receipt and sought his car. But when Jha went to fetch the SUV it was missing.
Rahul alleged that Jha was negligent in parking the vehicle. Hence, Jha, being their employee the hotel and the valet parking agent were “vicariously liable” for the theft of the vehicle. The matter was reported to the police and Rahul issued a notice to the opponents, seeking compensation.
Along with the complaint, the Sahanis submitted the exit check, Jha’s statement and a copy of the FIR to prove Rahul’s visit and the parking of his SUV in the valet parking area through Jha. Calculating the compensation amount, the forum said that the documents showed that the SUV was purchased in 2009-10. “Considering 10% depreciation per year, the complainants are entitled to get Rs 7 lakh towards the cost of the vehicle, and Rs 50,000 towards compensation,” the forum said.
It held that Rs5,000 was to be paid to the Sahanis towards cost of the complaint.
We’re all familiar with horror stories about juveniles on drugs, but normally it’s humans that are involved, not fish. This case, however, involves juvenile chinook salmon who never had the chance to “Just Say No.”
Disturbing new research has indicated that young salmon found in Puget Sound tested positive for more than 80 different drugs, including cocaine, antidepressants and dozens of other medications used by humans.
When researchers tested the water at and near sewage treatment plants in the estuaries of Puget Sound near Seattle, Washington, they discovered high levels of drugs and personal care products – at some of the highest concentrations found anywhere in the nation.
The tissues of migratory chinook salmon and local staghorn sculpin also contained these compounds – even in the fish found in estuaries far from the sewage treatment plants where the water was previously considered “pristine.”
As reported by The Seattle Times:
“The medicine chest of common drugs also included Flonase, Aleve and Tylenol. Paxil, Valium and Zoloft. Tagamet, OxyContin and Darvon. Nicotine and caffeine. Fungicides, antiseptics and anticoagulants. And Cipro and other antibiotics galore.
“Why are the levels so high? It could be because people here use more of the drugs detected, or it could be related to wastewater-treatment plants’ processes, said Jim Meador, an environmental toxicologist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle and lead author on a paper published this week in the journal Environmental Pollution.”
Sewage treatment plants unable to cope
The presence of these drugs in the water appears to be related to the inability of the wastewater plants to fully remove these chemicals during treatment. But high fecal coliform counts in some areas of the Sound suggest that leaky septic tanks may also be contributing to the problem.
Some of the drugs found in the fish and the water of Puget Sound are difficult to remove using standard sewage treatment methods:
“Treatment plants in King County are effective in removing some drugs in wastewater, but many drugs are recalcitrant and remain. Seizure drugs, for instance, are very hard to remove, and ibuprofen levels are knocked down — but not out — during treatment, said Betsy Cooper, permit administrator for the county’s Wastewater Treatment Division.”
Who is really to blame?
But the blame should not be placed entirely on the treatment plants, according to Cooper. “You have treatment doing its best to remove these, chemically and biologically,” she said, “but it’s not just the treatment quality, it’s also the amount that we use day to day and our assumption that it just goes away.”
Shamefully, our own drug dependence is now poisoning other species as well. We have become a nation of drugged-out zombies, but that doesn’t give us the right to turn fish and other animals into the same.
Maybe it’s time to start realizing that prescription pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter remedies and illicit drugs are doing us – and our environment – far more harm than good.
We’ve bought into the Big Pharma-created myth that there is a chemical solution to all our problems – physical and mental – when in reality these substances are the cause of much of our “dis-ease” and general out-of-balance lifestyles.
The obvious solution
Although Western pharmaceutical medicine arguably has some value, almost everything these drugs are designed to treat can be more effectively dealt with using natural methods which promote healing rather than dependence.
And one of the obvious lessons from the situation in Puget Sound is that when you make bad decisions at one level, there will be negative effects on other levels as well. We don’t live in a vacuum, and our unhealthy lifestyles have an impact on all living things.
We’re simultaneously poisoning ourselves and our surroundings. Maybe it’s time for another approach …