The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA) is an Act passed by the Indian Parliament. The RERA seeks to protect the interests of home buyers and also boost investments in the real estate sector. The Rajya Sabha passed the RERA bill on March 10, 2016, followed by the Lok Sabha on March 15, 2016 and it came into force from May 1, 2016. 59 of its 92 sections were notified on May 1, 2016 and the remaining provisions came into force from May 1, 2017. Under the Act, the central and state governments, are required to notify their own rules under the Act, six months, on the basis of the model rules framed under the central Act.
For long, home buyers have complained that real estate transactions were lopsided and heavily in favour of the developers. RERA and the government’s model code, aim to create a more equitable and fair transaction between the seller and the buyer of properties, especially in the primary market. RERA, it is hoped, will make real estate purchase simpler, by bringing in better accountability and transparency, provided that states do not dilute the provisions and the spirit of the central act.
The RERA will give the Indian real estate industry its first regulator. The Real Estate Act makes it mandatory for each state and union territory, to form its own regulator and frame the rules that will govern the functioning of the regulator.
How will RERA impact home buyers
Some of the important compliances are:
- Informing allottees about any minor addition or alteration.
- Consent of 2/3rd allottees about any other addition or alteration.
- No launch or advertisement before registration with RERA
- Consent of 2/3rd allottees for transferring majority rights to 3rd party.
- Sharing information project plan, layout, government approvals, land title status, sub-contractors.
- Increased assertion on the timely completion of projects and delivery to the consumer.
- An increase in the quality of construction due to a defect liability period of five years.
- Formation of RWA within specified time or 3 months after majority of units have been sold.
The most positive aspect of this Act is that it provides a unified legal regime for the purchase of flats; apartments, etc., and seeks to standardise the practice across the country. Below are certain key highlights of the Act:
Establishment of the regulatory authority: The absence of a proper regulator (like the Securities Exchange Board of India for the capital markets) in the real estate sector, was long felt. The Act establishes Real Estate Regulatory Authority in each state and union territory. Its functions include protection of the interests of the stakeholders, accumulating data at a designated repository and creating a robust grievance redressal system. To prevent time lags, the authority has been mandated to dispose applications within a maximum period of 60 days; and the same may be extended only if a reason is recorded for the delay. Further, the Real Estate Appellate Authority (REAT) shall be the appropriate forum for appeals.
Compulsory registration: According to the central act, every real estate project (where the total area to be developed exceeds 500 sq mtrs or more than 8 apartments is proposed to be developed in any phase), must be registered with its respective state’s RERA. Existing projects where the completion certificate (CC) or occupancy certificate (OC) has not been issued, are also required to comply with the registration requirements under the Act. While applying for registration, promoters are required to provide detailed information on the project e.g. land status, details of the promoter, approvals, schedule of completion, etc. Only when registration is completed and other approvals (construction related) are in place, can the project be marketed.
Reserve account: One of the primary reasons for delay of projects was that funds collected from one project, would invariably be diverted to fund new, different projects. To prevent such a diversion, promoters are now required to park 70% of all project receivables into a separate reserve account. The proceeds of such account can only be used towards land and construction expenses and will be required to be certified by a professional.
Continual disclosures by promoters: After the implementation of the Act, home buyers will be able to monitor the progress of the project on the RERA website since promoters will be required to make periodic submissions to the regulator regarding the progress of the project.
Title representation: Promoters are now required to make a positive warranty on his right title and interest on the land, which can be used later against him by the home buyer, should any title defect be discovered. Additionally, they are required to obtain insurance against the title and construction of the projects, proceeds of which shall go to the allottee upon execution of the agreement of sale.
Standardisation of sale agreement: The Act prescribes a standard model sale agreement to be entered into between promoters and homebuyers. Typically, promoters insert punitive clauses against home buyers which penalised them for any default while similar defaults by the promoter attracted negligible or no penalty. Such penal clauses could well be a thing of the past and home buyers can look forward to more balanced agreements in the future.
Penalty: To ensure that violation of the Act is not taken lightly, stiff monetary penalty (up to 10% of the project cost) and imprisonment has been prescribed against violators.
RERA definition of carpet area
The area of a property is often calculated in three different ways – carpet area, built-up area and super built-up area. Hence, when it comes to buying a property, this can leads to a lot of disconnect, between what you pay and what you actually get.
Gautam Chatterjee, Maharashtra RERA chairman, explains that “It is now mandatory for the developers of all ongoing projects, to disclose the size of their apartments, on the basis on carpet area (i.e., the area within four walls). This includes usable spaces, like kitchen and toilets. This imparts clarity, which was not the case earlier.”
According to the RERA, carpet area is defined as ‘the net usable floor area of an apartment, excluding the area covered by the external walls, areas under services shafts, exclusive balcony or verandah area and exclusive open terrace area, but includes the area covered by the internal partition walls of the apartment’.
Rahul Shah, CEO of Sumer Group, points out that “As per the RERA guidelines, a builder must disclose the exact carpet area, so that a customer knows what he is paying for. However, the act does not make it mandatory for the builders, to sell a flat on the basis of carpet area.”