Dr D Dhanuraj, Chairman, CPPR, quoted in The Times of India.

The plight of the flat owners in the four apartment complexes in Maradu, which were ordered to be demolished, have exposed the loopholes in the system, which punishes innocent home buyers. In the absence of an effectively functioning Kerala Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA), it is almost impossible for buyers to get clarity on legal disputes.

D Dhanuraj, chairman of Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) said Kerala RERA will have enough powers to make builders disclose the status of legal disputes involving projects. “If effectively constituted, RERA will be able to protect the interest of flat owners. Flat owners have every right to know whether assets in which they are investing has been ever involved in legal disputes. The builder is bound to disclose all details about closed and pending cases as well as appeals,” he said adding that RERA could even let a third party raise alarm if it finds a builder violating rules and regulations.

Declaring solidarity with flat owners, the All Kerala Apartment Owners Association too has demanded the state government to speed up constitution and functioning of RERA. They said despite the Supreme Court remaining firm on its decision to pull down the flats, the government has done nothing to protect the interests of flat owners. “There is no way an ordinary person who wants to buy properties can learn about the legal status of an apartment in Kochi. How can a buyer understand whether there are any pending cases or appeals? How can they trust the claims of the builder? The state government needs to come up with answers,” said AKAOA president VK Shankarankutty.

Meanwhile, local body officials who issued permits and builders who constructed these structures go scot-free. It is also still unclear how the apex court will penalise the builders and government officials.

Advocate Jacob Mathew Manalil, who have taken up several cases on behalf of flat owners said: “The unholy nexus between politicians, local body officials and builders create such situations. Builders are one of the major fund raisers for political parties. There is so much money involved. Builders are in fact cheating home owners by not disclosing the status of legal disputes involving their projects.” Most flat owners in the four apartment complexes that have been ordered to pull down claim that they learnt about the legal disputes either through the media or when they were denied an ownership certificate by the local bodies.

This news story can be also read at The Times of India’s website

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