Mumbai: In line with its plan to put in place a grading system for real estate projects, the Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (MahaRERA) has released a consultation paper proposing a framework to have a third-party inspection to ensure quality homes to home buyers.
However, initially, it will be optional for developers to join this framework before it is made mandatory for all projects in Maharashtra, says the consultation paper.
Section 14 (3) of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA) provides for a defect liability period of five years from the possession date and the developer is liable to rectify the defects within 30 days of a complaint at his own expense. However, MahaRERA’s position is that even though the interests of the consumers are being protected by this provision, the proposed framework is aimed at setting standard procedures and construction standards to preempt any quality defects.
MahaRERA chairperson Ajoy Mehta said, “Although initially, this system is optional after the transition period is over, MahaRERA will make this system mandatory for all projects. This will ultimately benefit the home buyers and help in increasing the credibility of the sector.”
Like credit rating agencies rate corporate companies, MahaRERA proposes to grade housing projects and is planning to implement this by April 2024.
MahaRERA has also invited suggestions and objections from the public on its efficient implementation by December 31.
As per the consultation paper, the proactive stance not only benefits homebuyers by delivering high-quality homes but also contributes to the overall sustainability and reputation of the real estate industry. “MahaRERA proposes proactive quality assurance as the primary objective. This means that the focus should be on preventing defects from arising in the first place, thus avoiding the need for costly rework. By ensuring high standards of material quality and, workmanship during the construction process, real estate projects can be constructed to be defect-free and adhere to stringent quality standards,” says the paper.
In October, MahaRERA had written to the Self-Regulatory Organisations representing developers inviting industry suggestions, but there was little response from the developers.
The consultation paper refers to a similar framework adopted by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), the statutory authority in Singapore. Their Construction Quality Assessment System (CONQUAS) implemented in 1989 categorises the developers into six bands based on the quality of their projects ranging from very low incidence of major defects in projects to higher incidents of major defects.
The paper also refers to the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) in which the scheme provides for Third-Party Quality Monitoring Agencies to ensure quality of construction under various components of the mission.
MahaRERA proposes to carry out the third-party quality inspections in three stages: advanced stages of construction, pre-handover stage, and verification of rectification of defects. The final report by the inspection agency will be uploaded online for home buyers’ benefit. MahaRERA proposes to empanel third-party inspection agencies through a tendering process.
Reacting to the consultation paper, Shirish Deshpande, chairman, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat said, “Although the intention behind such an initiative is laudable and needs to be welcomed, MahaRERA needs to pay urgent and serious attention to one of its important statutory obligations of Dispute Resolution. The complainants are now complaining more against MahaRERA than against builders. We are told that complainants are waiting for months and months and even more than a year to get their next date of hearing. This is not acceptable. If this is true, then MahaRERA authority must leave everything aside and address the Dispute Resolution system on a war footing.”
Advocate Tanuj Lodha of Lodha and Lodha Advocates told HT, “Section 14(3) of the RERA provides for a curative solution to the problem of construction quality issues. However, the prevention of such construction defects has to be ensured in the first place. With this background, MahaRERA’s efforts to put in a quality framework is a welcome step for everyone.”
“MahaRERA’s proposal to put in place a Third-Party Quality Monitoring system and a panel of Third-Party Quality inspection agencies, first on a test basis and then on a mandatory basis is a proactive step by the Regulator. Once implemented, it will ensure additional safety net over and above the quality checks carried by Municipal corporations and other government agencies,” Lodha said.