Though RERA (Real Estate Regulation and Development Act) provides a dispute redressal mechanism for aggrieved parties through the courts, it offers a compromise solution too. They needn’t go to court if both parties are able to come to a mutual agreement. The Maharashtra RERA has been appreciated for its swift handling of home-buyer complaints and is also the first to establish a conciliation forum under the Act.
A conciliation forum acts as a mediator between aggrieved parties, bringing them to the negotiating table for an out-of-court settlement. Under this forum, the aggrieved parties (whether home buyers, developers or real estate agents) can get their grievances solved before filing a complaint with the RERA authority.
The forum usually comprises members of resident associations, RERA authorities, developers’ associations and a member from respective development or industry authority. These members would change according to regions. For instance, MahaRERA had set up this alternative dispute resolution mechanism and was able to mediate 375 out of 528 conciliation requests. Following it’s success, Uttar Pradesh has also established a conciliation forum.
RERA states that complaints with the authority should be disposed within 60 days from the date of filing them. With the conciliation forum in place, complaints have been resolved more quickly than through the authority. It also saves on the cost and time involved in litigation.
On receipt of initiation of conciliation, the Bench invites the feuding parties for a hearing. They are expected to be present with authorised representatives — for the promoter they could be from the company and for home-buyers it could be the residents’ association head or any other organisation.
The conciliators will facilitate a resolution of dispute between the parties without the involvement of lawyers. If a settlement is reached, a consent agreement is drawn and signed by both the parties. Otherwise, the conciliation process is terminated and the complainant is at liberty to pursue the case through RERA or before any other court.
However, if after signing the consent agreement, one of the parties fails or neglects to comply with the agreed terms, it will be treated as breach of the respective State’s RERA order and it would be taken note of by the authorities when they pass a judgment.
You as a home buyer can lodge a complaint against any RERA-registered developer or real estate agent with the conciliation forum for a minimal fee. But only difference in a conciliation forum is that you don’t have to worry about court trials and legal proceedings. Your complaints can include delay in project delivery, changes in construction plans, additional charges or lack of facilities promised, including parking space, storage space or elevator.
Without a conciliation forum, the RERA authority would receive your complaints and offer a solution. However, if a State has only an interim authority, it often results in a delayed resolution. Because the role of the interim regulator is temporary and he/she would have other tasks and might not focus on the issues of home-buyers.
Thus, establishment of conciliation forum not only takes the load off the RERA authorities but also brings about a speedy solution for home-buyers. Also, both parties can discuss the issues face to face, is an added advantage.
Some hope for home-buyers before a lengthy legal battle.
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