Homebuyers’ body opposes developers’ plea to amend structural defect liability

The Forum for People’s Collective Efforts (FPCE), a pan-India homebuyers’ association, has objected to realty developers’ proposal to amend the structural defect liability and workmanship clause under the Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Act, 2016.

According to Section 14(3) of the Act, the developer will be responsible for any structural defect in the project within five years of the date of possession.

At a meeting on January 3 in New Delhi, realty developers’ body NAREDCO proposed that the defect liability period should start from the date of completion certificate (CC) or occupation certificate (CC) instead of date of possession as there could be multiple possession dates.

“The Act has been framed after several years of consultation with all stakeholders and any change would now amount to tempering of provisions. It, therefore, cannot be allowed under removal of difficulty. Whenever such amendment is considered, homebuyers would like to see this extended at least for 10 years, as the apartment will be used by them for the lifetime,” Abhay Upadhyay, President of FPCE, told ET. Upadhyay is also member of RERA Central Advisory Council.

Developers have proposed bifurcation of defect and workmanship liability, wherein they are seeking only one year liability for workmanship defects including exterior painting, fittings, etc. Both the coverage periods have been proposed to start from the date of CC and OC as against current possession date.

FPCE has opposed this bifurcation too, saying that even workmanship liability should continue to be for five years from the date of possession.

It has also proposed expansion of the definition of ‘force majeure’ to include court, judicial order and stay on the developer’s project registered with RERA. It has also sought to include delayed approvals from government bodies under force majeure.

The developers’ body is seeking to extend the registration of the project beyond one year from the scheduled date of completion. However, members of the committee were of the view that the Bombay High Court has already dealt with the same and, therefore, this clause need not be changed.

Developers have proposed to bar the jurisdiction of consumer forums. According to reports, the minister for housing has already stated that no provision of the Act will be amended.

Last month, the ministry of housing and urban affairs constituted a committee to examine the difficulties in giving effect to the provisions of RERA and to suggest suitable measures to remove these hurdles under the Chairmanship of SD Meena, Additional Secretary (H&A) of the ministry.

The committee’s first meeting took place on January 03 in New Delhi. Prior to this, the ministry had held four regional workshops in Pune, Chennai, New Delhi and Ranchi. The inputs received in these workshops are being considered by the committee.

FPCE raised a concern that homebuyers received invitation to attend the workshop at short notice and were not informed that the workshop’s objective was to get suggestions from them for amendment of the Act with regards to removal of difficulties.