KOCHI: It’s now close to a decade since the Supreme Court had ruled that developers/builders can’t sell garages/stilt parking areas to flat owners, but despite the ruling, most builders in Kerala still follow the practice of selling parking space in order to earn an extra buck from the apartment owners.
In some cases the builders are audacious enough to reserve parking space for a select few by taking additional money and leaving the rest without a parking facility at all.
Talking to businessbenchmark.news, a Kochi-based leading builder said the SC ruling is applicable exclusively to Mumbai-based apartment projects as the verdict had emanated from a dispute in Mumbai.
However, it remains a fact that SC orders seek to establish laws of land in the areas concerned. According to experts, the practice of selling parking space, in essence, amounts to double-selling the same space that has already been sold to the apartment owners in the form of ‘undivided share of land’.
Hence the builder never enjoys the right to sell parking space in the same building unless it is a garage, (which has walls on three sides according to the definition of a garage in RERA rules.)
Experts specialised in property matters have warned the builders that they may have to return the money collected against sale of stilt parking if the apartment owners raise the issue with the support of cash receipt proving the same.
While in many cases, the sale agreement clearly spells out the cash collected against parking space, shrewd builders circumvent this irritant by avoiding the mention of money collected against parking space.
It was in 2010 September, a Supreme Court judgement rejected the argument of a real estate development company [in Mumbai] that they are entitled to sell garages/stilt parking areas as separate units to owners who intend to use it as parking facilities.
The argument by the builders for charging for car parking is that this space has not been loaded onto common built area like what they do with lift area, fitness room, stair case area etc, and hence they stand if they don’t sell parking space.
Some builders have designed ways to cut corners. They load this space proportionally on to the built-up area while selling the apartment and this helps them recover the loss they claim to be losing on this count.
“The basic issue is that the Kerala Apartment Act is silent on parking space leaving the issue to be fought out between the apartment owner and builder or between the Society and the members in some cases,” said an advocate.
There are also other vexing issues in apartment buildings such as how the maintenance charges should be collected – whether unit wise or in relation to the area of each apartment. These are issues that invite in disputes among the apartment owners as there are no common guiding principles as such.
Though Kerala has been the first state to initiate steps to establish Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) by kicking off the first website among all states, RERA still remains a non-starter here.