Kochi: Flat owners end up fighting legal battles over unauthorized constructions – ET RealEstate

KOCHI: Apartment owners in the city end up engaging in long legal battles when owners’ associations or builders permit unauthorized constructions in the building without obtaining proper permits from local bodies.

When individual apartment owners come across illegal or unauthorized constructions, they have to undergo tedious process of raising the issue with authorities.

“It is seen that many apartment owners’ associations are permitting structural changes or allowing unauthorized constructions in the building without obtaining permits or NOCs from local bodies. In many apartment complexes, the majority of the owners are NRIs and the associations hardly inform them about such matters,” said Vishwanath S, an NRI, who owns a flat at Anvita Residency, Desom near Aluva.

Commander (retd) C R Bubu, a resident of Palmgrove Apartments in Ambay Retreat on the banks of Chilavannoor Lake spoke about the legal battles the flat owners have been fighting against the demolition and reconstruction activities carried out by the builder. “With the support of almost all flat owners we have filed a case before the high court,” said Babu, adding that it has been seven years since he started fighting for his rights as a flat owner.

Builders have warned against making structural changes to the building without obtaining written permit from local bodies. Individual owners or apartment owners’ associations cannot puncture, remove or damage beams, slabs or columns. If at all changes are made it should be done with confirmation of builders through structural consultants. When issues related to unauthorized construction or demolition in the apartment come to the attention of the builders or developers, their technical and legal teams look into the issue. “The matter becomes complicated when the builder is absconding or goes out of business. There is so much of uncertainty over who would look into these complicated matters,” said a flat owner, who is retired professor, on condition of anonymity.

Roy Thekkan, general secretary of NGO Ernakulam District Consumer Protection Council, said, “The secretaries of panchayats, municipalities and corporation are bound to look into such complaints and prepare reports. Based on this report the local body should take action against violators. However, it is seen that officials do not follow procedures or act accordingly.”

“We have to protect our homes and we are left with no choice but to fight cases. It costs us money and time and we get drained out in the process,” said Mariyam Babu, a flat owner whose husband is fighting legal battles against a builder.

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Apartment association wants Kerala government to register all flats – ET RealEstate

KOCHI: As disputes between individual flat owners and apartment owners’ associations continue to surface, the All Kerala Apartment Owners’ Apex Association wants the state government to immediately initiate steps to facilitate the registration of apartments under Kerala Apartment Ownership Act, 1983.

Apartments are currently being registered under Travancore-Cochin Literary Scientific and Charitable Society Act. “Not registering apartments under the Kerala Apartment Ownership Act, 1983, amounts to injustice to flat owners. It is enacted for the purpose of providing ownership of individual apartments in a building and to make such apartments heritable and transferable property,” said advocate Jacob Mathew Manalil. He said that when it comes to disposition of the property, the Act will ensure that the flat owner gets the amount equivalent to the undivided share of the property.

Meanwhile, the All Kerala Apartment Owners’ Apex Association said that though it is mandatory for individual associations to file annual financial reports and conduct annual general body meetings, no agency is checking or monitoring these aspects.

“In Kochi there are over 500 housing associations. I don’t think even a 10% of them stick to the rules. It is high time that government steps in and enforce the rule. Though there is a check for exploitation of flat owners by building contractors and estate agents, once building is completed and possession handed over to the association it becomes free for all affair. Vested interests in management committees are taking undue advantage of the weakness of members. There is no uniform bylaw and each association is adopting bylaws as per their needs. That is why single women and bachelors are finding it difficult to get accommodation in apartment complexes,” said V K Shankarankutty, president of the apex body.

He said that annual financial reports are to be submitted within the prescribed time limit and annual general body meeting to be conducted and adopted before the report is submitted.

Government should ensure that accounts are audited either by registrar’s office staff or panel of auditors appointed by the registrar.

If any adverse remarks and financial fraud is detected, the registrar should be able to take over the administration of the society and expenses such as salary and other expenditure of the administrator will be borne by the society.

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Flat owners in Kochi can file RTI for annual financial reports – ET RealEstate

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KOCHI: Individual flat owners who fail to obtain the annual financial reports from apartment owners’ associations can get them from the registration department.

It is mandatory for the associations to file annual financial reports and the details of their office bearers with the registration department, all of which can be obtained through RTI.

Officials with the office of the district registrar confirmed that they have been receiving several queries from flat owners because of associations’ unwillingness to provide the financial statements and matters related to changes made to the existing building.

A senior official with the office of Ernakulam district registrar said: “These documents seldom undergo detailed scrutiny. We check whether apartment owners’ associations file the mandatory documents with the department.

“We hardly check the veracity of these statements. It is the duty of the members of these associations to verify the finer details,” he said.

The officer said that the time for filing these reports is specified in the bylaws of individual apartment owners’ associations though the timeframe varies for each association.

The registrar’s office stated that they do not have the powers to get involved in internal disputes between the members and owners’ associations.

The registrar’s office informed that flat owners will have to approach local bodies, police, or courts to settle the matter.

The department also does not involve in matters related to making structural changes or illegal constructions, the office said.

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Kerala: Pettimudy landslide victims receive title deeds – ET RealEstate

IDUKKI: The government has done everything humanly possible to rehabilitate Pettimudy landslide victims, said power minister M M Mani. At a function in Kuttiyarvalley on Sunday, the minister inaugurated title deed distribution and the construction work of new houses.

Each of the affected family received title deed of five cents of land to construct a house.

Collector H Dineshan said the compensation for the immediate kin of landslide victims would be distributed by the end this month. Government had issued notification on October 27 to provide compensation, he said.

Devikulam sub-collector S Premkrishnan said, “ The government has directed the KDHP company to complete the construction work of the houses in three months. The district administration will monitor the progress of the work.”

“The district administration will take steps to lay roads in Kuttiyarvalley to ensure good connectivity. KDHP officials have informed us that they would provide job and other assistance to victims,” the sub-collector added.

Idukki MP Dean Kuriakose, Devikulam MLA S Rajendran, collector H Dineshan and Devikulam sub collector S Premkrishnan, Devikulam teshsildar Giji M Kunnappally and KDHP managing director K Mathew Abraham attended the function.

The state cabinet had issued a special order to allot 50 cents of land at Kuttiyarvalley near Munnar for Pettimudy victims. Meanwhile, KDHP has allotted Rs.1 crore to construct homes for the victims.

The landslide at Pettimudy on August 6 had claimed lives of 66.

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