MahaRERA Sets Precedent: Homebuyers Can’t Claim Compensation Post Taking Possession

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Pune, 12th January 2024: In a recent order, the Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (MahaRERA) clarified that homebuyers are not entitled to claim compensation or interest for delayed possession under Section 18 of the RERA Act after taking possession of the property. MahaRERA’s interpretation emphasizes the necessity for a violation at the time of filing a complaint for relief.

Girish Bhoite’s case serves as a pivotal example of this ruling. Bhoite purchased a property from Paranjpe Schemes Construction Limited in Pune for Rs 50 lakh, with the agreement signed in June 2015. The possession was originally scheduled for March 2019, as per the agreement terms. However, Bhoite took possession in May 2022 and subsequently filed a complaint with MahaRERA, seeking interest and compensation for the delay in possession.

In response, the developer argued that the complaint was not maintainable as it was filed after Bhoite had taken possession of the apartment. The delays, the developer claimed, were attributed to environmental clearance and the unforeseen impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, the occupation certificate for the project was obtained in April 2021, and despite informing the homebuyer, possession was delayed until May 2022.

To demonstrate fairness, the developer stated that they had already compensated Bhoite by charging GST at the older, reduced rate and offered to waive off one year’s maintenance charges for the apartment.

After reviewing the arguments from both parties, MahaRERA concluded that claims for interest or compensation for delay in possession are valid only when the developer fails to complete the project or provide possession as per the specified date in the agreement for sale. The order, dated November 08, highlighted that homebuyers cannot seek relief under Section 18 of the RERA Act if the complaint is filed after taking possession.

MahaRERA further emphasized that any claim for relief under Section 18 must be raised while the developer’s default is ongoing on the date of filing the complaint.

In contrast to MahaRERA’s interpretation, the Maharashtra Real Estate Appellate Tribunal (MREAT) had previously expressed a different stance in a 2021 judgment. MREAT stated that when possession is handed over beyond the specified date, Section 18 of the RERA Act could be invoked, entitling homebuyers to relief under its provisions.

The tribunal criticized MahaRERA’s viewpoint, considering it stereotyped and erroneous, suggesting potential consequences for the real estate sector if widely accepted. This difference in interpretation highlights an ongoing debate within the regulatory framework governing the real estate sector in Maharashtra.