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.