From 1970s Housing aspect has been well developed in India and with the growth of economy and Government/Banking sector giving helping hand. “Roof above the head “even for poor sections of the society is a reality and no more a dream as hitherto. Major part of the Urban Land is now utilized for housing. Even the middle class and richer communities of the society prefer gated communities with the entire infrastructure including recreational facilities. Many Gated Communities with modern living infrastructure facilities have sprung up.
While the land belongs to owner, builder builds the flat, flat owner is the owner of the flat apart from proportionate ownership in the land. Question arises, legally, as to the ownership and responsibility for the common facilities and the attendant land.
Admittedly, Maharashtra Government, Bombay (now Mumbai) flat owners taken the lead for regulatory efforts. Thus Maharashtra Apartment Ownership Act 1970 became model law for other State Legislatures, basing on which each state legislated housing legislation concerning construction and ownership of flats.
Under this background, State legislatures have enacted regulatory Acts, rules and regulations. As far as Andhra Pradesh is concerned, The Andhra Pradesh Apartments (promotion of construction and ownership) Act, 1987 has been conceived after a careful examination basing on the report of the then Andhra Pradesh State Law Commission.
For a quick understanding, basic definitions of Andhra Housing legislation is narrated below. (list illustrative and not exhaustive)
There have been many ameliorative, healthy living and safety protective aspects have been well laid in this legislation and mostly some of the disgruntled builders have a tendency for non-observance and non-compliance of the construction provisions and Government official monitoring lacks luster and results in unsatisfactory and unsafe flats building. Much litigation has taken place regarding non-observance, non-compliance of provision of these provisions. Some of these provisions are flouted more than observance. Due to non-monitoring by Government agencies, such non-compliances and irregularities goes unabated.
It is an open common practice that pent house construction does not have prior approval and the Legislature and Government too shall compromise such constructions under the guise of REGULARISATION SCHEMES IN THE INTESREST OF REVENUE. If any accident takes places, the actual facts and realities shall be unearthed. Mostly the owner and builder shall have contractual understanding of owning the pent house. In the legal view, it is a common area and should belong to the flat owners. Some of the progressive builders earmark this open space for morning waling and for playing by children of residents apart from solar power locating solar power generating equipment.
Against the requirement of Builder handing over the common facilities to flat owners (in the form of Residents Welfare Society to be registered under Society Registration Act),many Housing Complexes are having unregistered Societies while maintenance activities are under the control of the Builders either directly or indirectly.
An illustrative list of judicial pronouncements given below for the purpose of reminding the flat owner’s rights and privileges.
SUMMARY OF APARTMENT OWNERS ACT JUDGEMENTS
Thus the Flat Owners are having rights and privileges apart from obligations and duties.
There have been very distinctive advantages of having a Registered Society and the Legislation calls for welfare and safety of the residents and only the inmates and Residents/owners should govern their own welfare and safety activity in the form of a Registered Society.
While in conclusion, flat owners before buying a flat should undertake due diligence of the safety and legal aspects of the Building and after living in the flat should maintain and govern themselves in the aspects of welfare and safety.
Ps. This article is written as a guidance note to Flat owners and writer has no prejudice or ill-will against the Builders community at all. The writer strongly believes that builder community is playing vital role in the housing development.
(Author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)