“Covid-19 has also had a debilitating effect on the real estate sector, which has become a cause for project delays,” Puri said participating in the deferred 3rd RERA Day Celebrations through a webinar attended by secretary, MoHUA, state RERA Authorities, Appellate Tribunals, home buyers, developers and other stakeholders of the sector.
“The government has taken several steps so that the real estate sector survives the onslaught of COVID-19. Regulatory authorities need to play a crucial role to revive the sector so that it can thrive and contribute to the country’s growth,” he said.
“These are indeed difficult times and it is the bounden duty of a responsive Government to address the concerns faced by various stakeholders. Various reformative measures have been taken by the Central Government to provide a boost to the real estate sector, including those towards regulatory, programmatic, fiscal and financial matters,” he said.
As part and parcel of the Prime Minister’s mega announcement, the Finance Minister in her announcements on May 13, 2020, delineating on the package, has included the demand made by the real estate sector for extension of the completion date or revised /extended completion date.
“Accordingly, the Ministry has issued necessary advisory to all States/Union Territories and their Regulatory Authorities for issuance of necessary orders/ directions under the enabling provisions of RERA to automatically extend the completion date or revised / extended completion date for all real estate projects registered under RERA for a period of 6 months, where completion date expires on or after 25th March, 2020,” he said.
Regulatory Authorities may further extend this timeline for a period upto 3 months, for whole of the State or part thereof, if the situation arising out of COVID-19 so demands, for the reasons to be recorded in writing, Puri said.
Also, Regulatory Authorities may extend concurrently the timelines of all statutory compliances in accordance with the provisions of RERA.
This will go a long way in addressing the anxiety amongst the home buyers and the developers, due to Covid-19 and is a step towards regulatory easing, he said.
During discussions with industry associations in the last few weeks, it was persistently requested that as the pandemic has affected the project implementation of real estate projects, it should be considered as a ‘force majeure’ event under the provisions of RERA, Puri said.
He said that during the initial period of the lockdown, construction activities had been barred. Lakhs of migrant workers left cities and workplaces for their native villages and many more are waiting to leave; supply of essential construction material has stopped; site engineers and other support staff are not available, and construction has come to a standstill.
After reviewing the situation, the Government has put in place certain measures to allow for construction activities effective from April 20, 2020, he said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has subsequently laid down a detailed protocol for the movement of persons, including migrant workers. “It is a fine balance between life and livelihood and the Government is fully conscious of that and hence, it is adopting a carefully calibrated approach while monitoring the situation by the hour,” Puri said.
RERA Day is celebrated on May 1. It is on May 1, 2017 that the Real Estate Act and all the 92 sections of the Act were notified for commencement from that date.
“The Real Estate Act was aimed at addressing serious concerns that plagued the growth of the real estate sector, affecting its true potential to contribute to the economy and the growth of the country. Indefinite delay in project completion; fund diversion; speculative purchases; absence of project information; unfair trade practices; absence of standardised agreements for sale; reneging on contracts; tardy resolution of disputes – had become the norm in the sector,” Puri said.
With RERA, homebuyers have found a voice that had hitherto been strangled and subjugated at the altar of unscrupulous elements. “Make no mistake, RERA is an article of faith for this Government. A promise made to the people that corruption and opaqueness will give way to a clean and transparent regime where accountability and financial discipline will be the cornerstones,” he said.
In the era of RERA, it is thus our collective duty to ensure that instances such as Amrapali, Jaypee and Unitech, do not ever happen again; home buyers / consumers in the sector receive their due; and the sector thrives to its true potential, he added.
Since the last three years, 31 States/UTs have notified the rules under RERA, and the two north eastern states are under process to notify the same.
As many as 30 States / UTs have set up Real Estate Regulatory Authorities, of which 24 have set up full-time regulatory authorities, and 6 have interim authorities.
As regards Appellate Tribunal, 24 States / UTs have set up Real Estate Appellate Tribunal, of which 16 have set-up regular Appellate Tribunals, and 8 have set up interim tribunals.
The operationalisation of a web-portal for project information, which is the heart of RERA ensuring full transparency, has been operationalized by 25 States / UTs.
Puri also urged all those states/UTs which are yet to notify their rules, or yet to establish their Regulatory Authorities / Appellate Tribunal and set up their websites, to do the same at the earliest.
As regards registrations under RERA – 51,971 real estate projects and and 40,517 real estate agents have been registered with the Regulatory Authorities across the country.
As many as 46,162 complaints have been disposed-off by the Real Estate Regulatory Authorities across the country. “This will go a long way in unclogging the consumer courts and the contract Courts, and ensure expeditious justice,” Puri said.
On West Bengal, Puri noted that “one state remains an outlier, which has enacted its own legislation and is not implementing RERA. Nevertheless, that is under challenge and the hearing is likely to happen soon, upon the resumption of regular hearings by the Supreme Court.”
West Bengal is the only state in the country that has not accepted RERA. It has enacted its own West Bengal Housing & Industrial Regulation Act 2017 (WBHIRA).