Real Estate Regulation Act or RERA guidelines in Kerala have strong challenges at its implementation stage. It must be noted that the Kerala Government has already been the subject of criticism over the framing and implementation of the RERA guidelines in the state. There have been allegations against the body made by members of the apartment owners’ apex association (AOAS) and noted lawyers.
For the uninitiated, the Kerala Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2015 (Bill No. 375) was presented at the State Legislative Assembly on 3 December 2015. Later Sri. S. Ajayakumar (Retired Chief Town Planner), was appointed as the first Chairman of Kerala Real Estate Regulatory Authority. The office space for Real Estate Regulatory Authority was allocated at the 5th floor of Swaraj Bhawan, Nanthancode, Thiruvananthapuram 695 003 earlier this year.
The state government then repealed the act with an ordinance, bringing the central act into force in the state. Kerala Real Estate (regulation and development) Act repeal ordinance (2017) was promulgated by the governor on July 15. Many provisions of the former RERA guidelines being favourable for builders was stated as the reason for this. The LSG minister, K.T.Jaleel had notified stating that a new bill will be presented soon, with the Central act being taken as the framework and changes being made for the state specific RERA guidelines. This has been the timeline of RERA implementation in Kerala.
Earlier, the K-RERA guidelines had in its provisions a lot of fluctuations from the Central governments act. For one, the clause in the Central act stating that ongoing projects had to have their projects registered with the authority saw a major fluctuation. The Authority in Kerala had relaxed this norm and under construction projects were exempted from the RERA scrutiny earlier. Now, it’s going to be a tough challenge for the Government to go through the complex process of registering projects that have been going on for years.
Another condition states that 70% of the amount acquired from buyers for a particular project was to be deposited in a separate bank account maintained exclusively for construction purposes of that specific project. The main aim behind this RERA guideline is to curb builder practices where the acquired funds were left to rotate between multiple projects. This practice had been a major contributor to project delays. According to a statement by advocate Jacob Mathew Manalil to a daily, many builders in Kerala have already adopted methods to divert the funds. It is going to be a great challenge for the Government to identify and crack down such loop holes in Kerala RERA guidelines.
There were also other fluctuations from the central act in the K-RERA guidelines. The central act had made it mandatory for projects with proposed land area of more than 500 Sq m or 8+ floors to get registered with RERA authorities. The KRERA had relaxed it a bit to extend over projects with 1000 sq. m+ or 12+ floors. It is going to be a major challenge now for the authority to go back on its earlier ordinance and get projects that escaped registration to get registered now.
Overall, Kerala’s real estate sector is still not out of the lull it has been experiencing. It is being said that not many sales are closing down and the prices don’t seem to go down either. With RERA implementation being a major concern, it is going to be a great challenge for the authority to pave way for Kerala’s real estate revival.
Thanvir Ahmed for IndiaProperty.com