Change of Layout and Floor plans by home developers is a rampant practice in India. Builders are habitual of changing floor plans after significant number of flats are sold. There have been various judgements by state courts against layout plan changes. However, recently, Hon’ble Supreme Court upheld the decision of district forum and turned down the layout / floor plan changes made without consent of home buyers. Case in discussion is related to Maharashtra Ownership of Flats Act but similar provisions exist in Apartments acts across the country.
This is a case of Pune resident who purchased an apartment in “Ganga Melrose, Sopan Baug, Ghorpadi, Pune” from M/s G.G.Associates developeres. When this home buyer received the possession of his apartment, he was shocked to learn that common lobby outside his apartment was merged with other apartments. Builder claims he took the layout plan approvals from competent authority. The court ordered to restore the original floor and layout plans. Builder moved to State Forum, NCDRC and finally Supreme Court. Supreme court also upheld the decision of district consumer forum pune.
Home Buyer’s Grievances
- Buyer of flat 501 on 5th floor got the possession on 17/5/2010. He was shocked to see that the Landing Space (Common Lobby) in front of the lifts on the 5th floor was reduced to approximately 2/3rd size and 1/3rd portion of the landing space (Common Lobby) was merged with flat Nos.503 and 504, which is contrary to the approved floor plan.
- Buyer claims builder have not taken the consent of the buyer and violated the provisions of the Maharashtra Ownership of Flats Act.
- Buyer have sought direction to the builder to reinstate the original position as per original sanction plan dated 23/3/2007 of the common lobby in front of his flat on the 5th floor.
- Buyer have claimed damages of Rs.3,00,000/- on account of mental agony and loss of usage of common lobby.
- Buyer have sought direction to restrain the opponents from carrying out any modification beyond the sanctioned plan dated 23/3/2007.
- Lobbies in front of the flat were not common areas and facilities. Landing space in front of the buyer flat is well intact and they have no right to claim any landing space in front of flat nos. 503 and 504.
- As per revised sanctioned plan from P.M.C dated 23/9/2010 the said space was included in the area of flat nos. 503 and 504.
- Builder have denied that common area includes the landing space.
What does the Law says
- (i) any alteration in the structures described therein in respect of the flat or flats which are agreed to be taken, without the previous consent of that person;
- (ii) any other alterations or additions in the structure of the building without the previous consent of all the persons who have agreed to take fiats in such building.
Similar clause exist in apartments acts across country.
- Builder have obtained revised plan dated 23/9/2010 from the P.M.C. and then the common lobby area and space was included in the area of flat nos. 503 and 504.
- The revised plan is dated 23/9/2010. Agreement between the buyer and the builder is dated 09/07/2009. That means after execution of the registered agreement between the parties, after lapse of one year, builder have obtained the revised plan from the P.M.C.
- As per the provisions of the Maharashtra Ownership of flats Act section 7 prior consent of the buyer for effecting the change in the sanction plan dated 23/3/2007 was not taken.
- Builder have failed to produce any documentary evidence on record that prior consent of the buyer for revised floor plan was taken. As per section 7 of the Maharashtra Ownership of flats Act it was obligatory on the part of the builder to take prior consent of the buyer .
- In the ruling Kalpita Enclave Co.Op. Housing Society Ltd. versus Kiran Builder of the Hon’ble Bombay High Court it is observed that if the original plans and specifications on the basis of which the persons were persuaded to purchase the flats discloses that certain areas will be kept open it would be clear contravention of the agreement as well as of the law if the promoter proceeds to construct additional structure on those places even with the sanction of the Municipal Corporation.
- Builders are jointly and severally directed to restore the open space which is available on the fifth floor of the building “Ganga Melrose” within six weeks from the date of receipt of copy of order.
- Opponents are jointly and severally directed to pay compensation of Rs.2,00,000/- for deficiency in service and for mental and physical torture within six weeks from the date of receipt of copy of order.
- Opponents are jointly and severally directed to pay Rs.1,000/- to the complainants towards costs of complaint.
Result of Appeals at various Forums including Supreme Court
As expected the developer challenged the verdict of the district forum at State Forum, National Consumer Forum and Supreme Court. All of the above respected forum upheld the decision of respected district forum.
Before the Supreme Court on July 3, the lawyer representing the builder submitted that the offending construction would be demolished within eight weeks. “If necessary, police assistance may be taken for demolition,” the apex court bench ordered while making a reference to the lawyer’s undertaking and posted the matter after eight weeks for compliance.
Copy of the full judgement from district forum can be found here: Ganga melrose Floor Plan Changes – District Forum
Copy of the full judgement from NCDRC can be found here: Ganga melrose – Floor Plan Changes – NCDRC
The Logical Buyer suggest that home buyers refer to this judgement in various forums because similar clauses exist in Apartment Acts of various country. Home Buyers and their respected lawyers can challenge unnecessary floor plans and layout plan changes done by builders.