Delayed possession had become a tangible malady in India regardless of paying huge amounts to the builders in advance, the agony caused by such delays, sometimes going up to 7-8 years is unimaginable and due to such deprivations faced by buyers and in order to regulate the real estate market Government of India introduced RERA (Real Estate Regulation Authority) Act in 2016.
This act provides a sector-specific dispute resolution forum and delegates judicial powers on RERA (Real Estate Regulating Authority). It has jurisdiction over all the matters relating to real estate and complaints of any amount can be filed with RERA provided that the complainant has valid proofs such as purchase agreements or builder-buyer agreement.The Agreement should specify the exact time of offering possession. Even if the agreement provided uses language, such as- the builder would “strive” or “endeavour” to offer the possession within a particular period of time.The builder should put all the reasonable efforts to offer the possession within the given period. The burden to explain the steps taken to comply with the agreed date of agreement is on the developer as held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the recent case of NBCC Limited V. Shri Ram Trivedi 2021. However the reasonable period of delay in any case should not extend to 7 years as held by the Hon’ble Supreme court in the case of Kolkata West International City Pvt. Ltd. V. Devasis Rudra 2019. Furthermore in the case of DLF Home Developers V. Capital Greens Flat Buyers Association 2020 the Hon’ble Supreme Court upheld the findings of the NCDRC (National Consumer Dispute Resolution Commission) against the defence of force majeure as- “While doing a construction work for real estate projects unforeseeable circumstances is a normal incident and a developer would be conscious of such delays and thus a builder cannot set this up as a defence against the claim for compensation where the contractually agreed period for handing over of possession has been delayed.” All these recent landmark judgements which are in favour of buyer contribute positively in improving the conditions of real estate market.
If a builder has delayed your possession you can approach both Consumer court under CPA (Consumer Protection Act), 2019 and RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Authority) under Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016.
Under the CPA (Consumer Protection Act) 2019, delayed possession will be constituted as a deficiency in services and the buyer will have to justifying his complaint under sec. 2(6) of the said act, howbeit the sec. 2(6) puts one-sided terms and conditions in favour of the builder or developer to justify the delay in construction and possession which can easily be dealt as an “unfair contract”. On the other hand RERA (Real Estate Regulating Authority) deals with delayed possession differently when a complaint of delayed possession is submitted sec. 18(1) of Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act comes into play which gives the buyer or allottee an option to withdraw from that real estate project, if the builder fails to complete the project on time or if the builder is unable to give possession as per the terms of the agreement then the buyer can also seek full refund of the principal amounts paid with interest as compensation and promoter shall be liable to return the entire amount paid off by the buyer with interest. The rate of interest payable by the promoter of the real estate project and the format of complaints are prescribed under the RERA Rules which are different in different states and if the buyer wishes to continue with the real estate project he can do so and alongside can claim compensation from the builder for every month of delay till the possession of the property is finally given to the buyer. One can claim for the following reliefs:

  1. Total sum of money required to buy an alternate accommodation at current market price within the same area can be claimed as compensation by the buyer or allottee.
  2. Total amount of money required to rent out an alternate accommodation can be claimed as compensation by the buyer or allottee.
  3. Compensation against the builder for causing you loss of opportunity because the amount you paid to the builder could have been invested somewhere else.

Real Estate Regulatory Authority hearings are time bound and any filed case should be disposed off within a set time period from the date of receipt by following principles of Natural Justice. The time bound feature of RERA hearings is a boon for buyers which provides them with speedy remedy. Furthermore, the officers of Real Estate Regulating Authority have powers to summon and enforce the presence of any individual who is required for the case to provide evidence or to produce any document which can be beneficial or relevant for the case. The Tribunal is also empowered by the said act to pass interim orders as well.
Real Estate Regulating Authority forums have appreciable benefits over consumer forums, filing complaints with the RERA is easy as compared to consumer forum, RERA does not have any pecuniary limit opposite to consumer courts which have pecuniary limitations. Moreover, RERA has power to investigate in a matter and issue notices on its own and also to imprison habitual offenders which the consumer courts clearly lack.

In case, when RERA Authorities has passed an order in favour of buyer or allottee but the builder willing fails to comply with the orders passed by RERA, then the buyer or allottee can file an application for the execution of the RERA orders against the builder with the same RERA Authority.

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