What To Do If Your Property Possession Has Been Delayed

In recent times, buyers in the Indian real estate market have faced problems of delayed possession. This has discouraged NRI buyers from investing in real estate in India due to the financial losses incurred. But with recent legislation and court judgments, the rights of property buyers have been empowered.

Delayed possession is a breach of the builder-buyer agreement. This agreement stipulates a certain date of possession of the property. The builder is legally bounded by this agreement and any breach will invite legal action.

Real Estate Regulatory Act (RERA) 2016

RERA has brought new hope for NRI buyers in India. The main aim of this Act is to empower the buyers and protect them from fraudulent and misleading acts of builders/developers. Under this Act, stringent provisions regarding delayed possession have been mentioned. It also entails legal action against builders/developers who default on the agreement. RERA mandates the developers to register on their website the full information related to the work-in-progress of the project and provide this information to the NRI buyers. Information should be detailed such as the type of project along with the foundation date to the completion date.

All these provisions help the NRIs to claim compensation. NRIs who invest in properties in India are also eligible for the interest on the payment made to the developer to date, in case of any delay. As provisions and rules of RERA vary from state to state, in some states the builder is liable to refund the whole amount invested by the buyer along with interest, if the developer cannot justify the delay.

Consumer Protection Commission

RERA empowers the Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission to address the complaints of the buyers of residential property. Complaints in consumer courts are filed based on the value of the property. For property whose value is up to 1 crore, one can approach District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (DCDRF) also called a “district forum”. For property whose value is between 1 crore-10 crore, buyers can approach State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (SCDRC) also called “state commission” and for a property whose value exceeds 10 crores, the case is filed in National Commission.

A buyer can approach consumer forums under the Consumer Protection Act 2019, for delayed possession as it is a “deficiency in service” as promised by the developer.

Indian Contract Act,1872

Delayed possession of the property is a breach of the buyer-seller agreement and therefore it is a breach of a contract under the Indian Contract Act, 1872. The buyer can file a suit under this Act and initiate a civil or/and criminal proceedings.

NRIs looking for investments in India now can turn to various laws for respite and protection of their rights as buyers.