The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs- MOH&UA- has requested the government to extend the timelines under the RERA (Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016. It has asked to develop the timelines to invoke the Force Majeure under the Act; to complete the Real Estate Projects which have got locked and delayed in these COVID-19 times, and various statutory compliances, under the provisions of RERA.
The request was added to the government to make changes in the ongoing RERA, due to the reverse movement of the laborers from cities to villages, in the coming of this Pandemic-Covid-19.
What is RERA Advisory?
It is the Central Advisory Council, where all the stakeholders from the different areas such as representatives of home buyers, developers, real estate, agents, financial institutions, regulatory authorities, and state governments. It is a body that regulates and issues the guidelines on the real estate projects which have been registered under the RERA.
Every promoter of the real estate project has to take the certificate of registration from the RERA- Regulatory Authorities, of the requisite states and Union Territories, before advertising, marketing, booking, selling, or offering for sale, or inviting persons to purchase the plot. Apartment or building etc.
Non- completion of the projects within the stipulated period may attract penalties which may be extended up to- 5 % of the estimated cost of the project. If the promoter fails to submit the project on time or fails to give the possession time, as settled in the agreement, the allottee is entitled to the payment of interest as may be set out in the agreement to sell until the handling of the possession.
The first question which comes is that after the coming of Pandemic and with no labor, how this real estate project will be completed on times, which has been registered under the RERA.
The RERA stated that the timeline must be extended for at least one year, in such real-estate projects, on an application made by the promoter under RERA Registration.
The term “force majeure” needs to be defined according to the Act. The term Force Majeure has been described as a case of cyclone, earthquake, or any calamity, caused by nature affecting the regular work/developments of the Real Estate Projects.
It was discussed and interpreted by our legislators (Ministry) that the current situation of Pandemic is no less than the event which has been caused by nature and is a calamity of nature.
This natural calamity is disturbing the workflow of our real estate projects.
It can be concluded that Pandemic is the force majeure in the above case, which attracts the provision of RERA. It can be said this way; Pandemic is included in the term Force Majeure.
Major Timeline Changes made by RERA Authority in Pandemic
RERA Advisory has been asked to introduce the orders/directions which protect the interest of the stakeholders. The RERA Advisory, in compliance with the request made by the promoters, has issued the guidelines of timeline extension to all the States, or Union Territories, and their real estate regulatory authorities.
RERA to avoid the diversity of the applications of the promoters, from various real estate project holders to extend the timelines, the regulatory authorities of different State/Union Territories, under their respective jurisdiction issue the following guidelines or orders in relation to their individual registered projects for which the completion date or extension date or revised completion date as per the registration expires on the March 25, 2020.
The respective Regulatory authority may issue the orders/ directions or completion date or revised completion date or extension of time by 6 Months, considering the Force Majeure, which includes the COVID-19 Pandemic
The other Regulatory Authorities may extend the time at their discretion and raise the additional time by three months. This will come into the picture only when the other States Regulatory Authority considers it necessary, due to the outbreak of Covid -19, Pandemic.
RERA issues the new Registration Certificates to the Promoters with the revised or extended timelines in each of the registered real estate projects.
RERA will simultaneously increase the time limits for all the Compliances attached with RERA registered real estate projects.
The RERA has created a unique window on its portal for the projects of RERA, till June 30, 2020, a unique platform to submit the applications for the projects, which are affected by the Pandemic, is covered under the definition of Force Majeure.
It states that no interest is payable to the allottee under section 12 and 18 of the RERA Act.
Time Limit Extension By states
Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat have extended the time limit for the registered real estate projects under RERA under the provisions of RERA by three to five months.
Rajasthan Real Estate Regulatory Authority has extended the dates of the registered projects of real- estate, to be extended to 12 months, the estimated finish dates, and the period of validity of the registration in the registration certificates of all the real estate projects that were registered and not completed, lapsed, revoked, as on March 19t, 2020.
The said extension of the Rajasthan Projects was available to the real estate projects under RERA, which were registered after March 19, 2020.
It can be concluded that RERA has and its extension of time limit over the registered projects of real-estate, was essential to avoid the hefty penalties which could be attracted due to the provisions of the Act. The sentences were drawn on the builders of real estate projects due to non-completion of the projects. The step called off the penalties, as the situation was not in the hands of builders.
After including the Pandemic of Covid-19 in the definition of the Force Majeure, has saved the penalties and list of defaulters according to the RERA Act.
The government also clarified that it will suspend the new initiation of insolvency applications, for a year considering the current COVID-19 Pandemic. The recourse to the homebuyers under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code shall not be applicable over them, in this situation for a year. These developments brought by the government have been in favor of the home developers, and no mercy was spared to the Homebuyers in the IBC for the insolvency application.
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