The Tamil Nadu Real Estate Regulatory Authority (TNRERA), Chennai, has directed a developer to pay compensation of ₹50,000 each to 12 homebuyers and refund the amounts already paid for the non-delivery of flats.
In separate petitions, the homebuyers said they had booked flats at ‘Brindhavanam’, a residential project in Kundrathur developed by M/s Sri Lakshmi Builders Pvt. Ltd., and paid an advance and other amounts as per the construction agreements entered into with the builder.
According to the petitioners, the agreements were signed between August 15, 2012 and September 25, 2013, and the deadlines for the delivery of the flats fell between January 14, 2014, and February 25, 2015. The home buyers sought compensation and other forms of relief.
In its response, the developer alleged that the delay was due to a failure on the part of the home buyers to make further payments as and when they were sought, and that the home buyers were liable to pay interest for the delayed payments. With these contentions, the developer sought the dismissal of the petitions.
The TNRERA noted that the homebuyers had paid 85%-100% of the construction cost, and that the terms of the construction agreements were overwhelmingly one-sided in favour of the builder. “There is not even a single clause giving the homebuyers the right to claim compensation or damages for delay on the part of the builder,” it noted.
Pointing out that one clause provided for the payment of interest at 24% per annum by the homebuyers for delayed payments, the Authority said that as per a Supreme Court verdict, the builder cannot seek to bind the buyer with one-sided contractual terms.
It noted that the homebuyers were eligible for a refund of the amounts paid with interest of 10.05% per annum, and entitled to a sum of ₹20,000 each towards litigation expenses. The TNRERA also ruled that the developer was entitled to interest of 10.05% per annum on the delayed payments, and could adjust the amount from the compensation to be paid out to the homebuyers.