File a Case Against Fraudulent Builders: Your Legal DIY

The number of cases against builders has been piling up in recent times with no action being taken under the law. Delayed possession, zero response from builder and bad construction quality is some of the highlighted issues by a consumer.



The number of cases against builders has been piling up in recent times with no action being taken under the law. Delayed possession, zero response from builder and bad construction quality is some of the highlighted issues by a consumer. 

Under such circumstances, a common man not well worst with legal actions and their powers are left clueless about necessary step they may take against their grievance. This easy DIY to file case against your builder shall make your legal course easy.

In any event where you might feel like the deal you were initially promised has turned sour regarding a real estate transaction and the builder is trying to commit fraud or deceive a bona fide buyer certain simple steps to file a case against defaulter builder at consumer court. 

  1. Identify your reason behind discontent.
  2. Draft a legal notice against the builder stating the reason.
  3. Wait for a definitive time period for the builder to respond.
  4. Under no response, prepare for a petition against the builder with the help of a legal expert.
  5. File your petition against the builder at consumer court. Follow these simple steps to take necessary action against your builder.

 

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Picture Courtesy- timesofindia.com

Consumer Protection Act - Primary Recourse against fraudulent builders

To be noted, builders are amenable under Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

As per a landmark decision passed in 1993 in the case of Lucknow Development Authority vs. M.K.Gupta, the Honourable Supreme Court of India passed a judgement stating that “all builders/contractor(s)/all concerned authorities of any State engaged in Housing Construction activity in any manner are amenable to Consumer Protection Act, 1986 for any act or omission relating to housing activity such as:

“Delay in delivery of possession, non-completion of construction within the stipulated time, defective and faulty construction and more…”

Clearly stating, the builder or construction company engaged in the act is providing service to the consumer. Any delay in the service or loss to the consumer makes them eligible to get compensated monetarily.

 

The judgment clearly states the fact that a builder who constructs a house or hires the services of a contractor to develop a property is engaged in the act of providing service to his customer, and for which he is getting monetarily compensated.

This makes him a service provider and hence liable under the clauses of Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Below mentioned are the steps to file a consumer complaint against a builder:

  1. Send a well drafted Legal Notice to the builder stating your reasons of discontent
  2. Await for a response for the stipulated time from the other party
  3. On no-response, prepare a petition stating facts and evidences with the help of expert legal advice.
  4. Approach the Consumer Court and file your petition against the builder
  5. In the event of a delay in possession by a builder, there is no time constraint that the buyer has to follow to file the complaint.

Recourse under the newly enacted RERA

Although RERA is a central law, its implementation will depend on state governments, as real estate is a state subject.Most of the states have now notified their own versions of RERA Act and have been implementing the enacted laws.

Some of the states like Maharashtra and Karnataka have already launched their respective RERA portals for the benefit of all stake holders i.e., Real estate builders, Property Agents and Home buyers.

Issues like delayed possession, default on design and construction parameters, mismatch of space in the guise of floor area & carpet area, the list of woes for home buyers seems to be endless and if a buyer has faced any fraud in part of the builder regarding almost anything under the sun, a complaint can be registered with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority for that particular state.

Generally accepted grounds internationally- where builders can be sued 

To protect the interest of consumer, The International Consumer Rights Protection Council has laid down certain rights for the consumer. Following are the powers given to a consumer on the grounds of which they can file a case against a builder:

  • Non-execution of relevant sale agreement despite having received a substantial advance amount
  • Non-issuance of copies of all relevant documents viz.; development agreement, power of attorney, sanctioned plan (by concerned Regional Authorities), specification of construction materials/design as per sanctioned plan and any other relevant documents
  • Charged higher than the agreed amount
  • No issuance of proper receipt(s) against the paid amount
  • Poor quality construction
  • Delivering of a house not complying to agreed specifications
  • No free parking space within the premises
  • Did not form a co-operative housing society and handed over to members
  • Non-provision of water storage tank
  • Non-provision of proper ventilation and light
  • Delayed possession beyond the stipulated time limit
  • Not obtaining completion certificate from the concerned registered (by the authorities) architect
  • Non-issuance of Occupancy Certificate at the time of delivery of respective flats/house to its occupants.

Different Forums under seperate Acts, which may be approached in special scenarios- 

Competition Commission of India (CCI)

A buyer can file a complaint with CCI  if the builder is using his dominant position to suppress buyer’s demands or for their disadvantages. The complaint can be filed against the abuse of dominant position as per the Competition Act, 2002. 

Criminal Courts

The allottee can also file a criminal case against the builder for cheating, breach of agreement and not attend to the grievance under Indian Penal Code, 1860. The buyer can issue a notice to the builder and if the notice remains unanswered; buyer can approach the criminal court.

Arbitration

Arbitration can only take place if there is a clause of arbitration, Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. in the builder buyer's agreement.

 Filing a suit in civil court

If the developer has breached the clauses of the sale agreement, the home buyer can approach the civil court and file the petition for damages caused or even the refund of the amount along with the interest under Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.