Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum orders Dharia Developers to immediately act on obtaining Occupation Certificate for a property owner who bought his flat in 2006.Obtaining Occupation Certificate (OC) should be a must-have document for those purchasing flats, before taking possession of their property. If you are denied the same, then the consumer court can come to your rescue.
Distressed flat-purchasers have a precedent in their fight with builders, as the Bandra Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, last week, ordered Dharia Developers to give a purchaser OC within four months, noting that the OC is an essential requirement for a flat-buyer.
As per an agreement dated September 26, 2006, textile businessman Mehul Thakkar bought two flats on the sixth floor (601 and 602) of ‘The View’ facing the serene Powai Lake . Paying Rs 40.25 lakh for each of the flats, the remaining one lakh per flat was agreed to be paid on possession.
Thakkar’s lawyer Uday Wavikar argued that the builder, Dharia Developers, had promised to give the possession of the flats within 12 months from the date of agreement. However, Thakkar is yet to obtain the OC or the Completion Certificate for these flats. Hence, Thakkar sent a notice to the builder demanding the same. When the builder didn’t respond, Thakkar filed a complaint before the Forum and also an application seeking interim relief.
In their defence, Dharia Developers argued that Thakkar wanted to merge both the flats into a single unit, as per his letter in September 2006. The builder claimed that though this was against the building’s approved plan, they permitted Thakkar to do so at his own expense after getting an approval from the sanctioning authorities.
The builder stated that since Thakkar couldn’t complete the work in time, the OC couldn’t be obtained from the authorities. Hence, they are not responsible for the delay in handing over the possession and the OC to Thakkar.
In their interim order, which is common for both of Thakkar’s flats, the Bandra Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has held the builder as having committed deficiency of service.
The forum observed, “These explanations are hardly satisfactory, because it was an obligation incurred by Thakkar. If Thakkar had not carried out the modifications that he had suggested, the builder could have completed the construction disregarding Thakkar’s suggestions.” The forum noted that though Thakkar had given the letter informing of the modifications to the builder in September 2006, the flat’s construction is incomplete even after three years. “The builder should have completed the constructions, internal as well as external, as per the original plan, since the modifications were at Thakkar’s instance.
The builder was not required to wait till the modifications were completed. This shows that the builder has put forward a lame excuse for not completing the construction and for not obtaining the OC. The builder received almost the entire consideration of the flat, more than Rs 40 lakh in 2006. He has retained the amount and utilised the same, but has not collected the OC.”
The Forum held, “Obtaining OC is an essential requirement under the MOFA (Maharashtra Ownership Flat Act) and the flat purchased cannot legally occupy the same, unless the OC is obtained by the builder. The builder has not produced a single piece of paper to show that he has taken effective steps with the competent authority for obtaining OC.” Thakkar said, “After I got married in June, I decided to move in here from my Juhu home, where I lived with my parents. However, I was dejected, when the builder handed over my flat in a total mess, without having done the interiors or giving me the OC, even when I paid him almost the entire amount. I am very satisfied with the order. A flat-buyer should fight for his rights, and shouldn’t fear the builder.”
Devidas Balani, Proprietor, Dharia Developers said, “Their complaint itself is wrong. We had completed our work, and handed them the possession long back. They damaged the walls, for which they were supposed to complete their repairs, which they haven’t since the last three years. We will appeal against this order.”
Importance of Occupation Certificate (OC)
The OC, issued by the local municipality, stands for the completion of the property as per the approved plan, so as to be fit for occupation, and should be in compliance with all concerned laws.
Lawyer Wavikar said, “This is a trendsetting order, especially with the consumer foras, passing it at an interim stage. Several flat-buyers, who shell out their lifetime’s hard-earned money, will be benefitted by this order.
Many get possession, though not the OC, due to which the municipality can ask for eviction of their flat or have penalties levied on them. Besides, if they don’t have OC, the possession is illegal. Even the water supply would be charged at double or triple the usual rate and the same goes for electricity.”