News Point: Victoryone buyers in Noida Extension are protesting against unjustified and arbitrary financial demand by the builder.
Abuse of dominant position in the market is an unfair trade practice that is often perceived in the collective consciousness on part of the larger players having established their brand equity. But in Great Noida West (popularly known as Noida Extension) Victoryone Infraprojects, a lesser-known developer registered with a subsidiary Intellect Projects Pvt Ltd is a case study in abuse of dominant position as a builder against the hapless homebuyers.
Coercing the buyers at the project Victoryone Central in Noida Extension to pay arbitrary demands, the builder is flouting all business ethics, established market norms and his own one-sided Builder Buyer Agreement (BBA).
The homebuyers have taken to streets to protest against what they call a clear design to extract more arbitrary payment out of buyers with disregard to what has been agreed upon.
The buyers have alleged that in the final demand letter the Victoryone has not honoured the one-sided Builder-Buyer Agreement (BBA) that mandates the builder to pay penalty. However, the builder is referring the same BBA with wrong interpretation and forcing the buyers to pay more in the name of signed agreement.
The buyers allege that they got an opportunity to see the terms of BBA three months after making the payment of booking amount. They were left with no choice but to sign the document to save the signing amount being forfeited in case of cancellation.
Track2Realty has reviewed the one-sided BBA of the builder to find the agreement did not even follow the mandatory norms of two witnesses to be signatories. It clearly did not give the hapless homebuyers any chance to consult the lawyers.
However, beyond the legality/validity of the BBA, as the buyers have signed it in absence of any choice, what the homebuyers are finding surprising and objectionable is that while the one party (builder) is twisting the terms of the agreement to demand more money, it is not ready to honour the legitimate right of the other party (buyer) for delay in construction.
For example, the Total Super Area is increased by 3.5% and there is demand for more payment in lieu of. Buyers maintain that it is a clear case of abuse of the dominant position of the builder as against the buyers. The prescribed norm of +/-3% (as mentioned in Clause No. 5 of BBA) was meant for inadvertent deviation in the design & layout and anything over and above that is a deliberate act.
They question that if there had been the intent of the company to increase the Super Area by 3.5% the builder was liable to communicate the layout changes to the buyers to get the prior consent of the two-third of the buyers.
“Any demand against what has not been agreed upon or mandated by majority of the homebuyers in the project is not justified on part of the builder. Buyers of affordable housing projects like us are not in a position to arrange extra money all of a sudden for something that we have not agreed upon,” says a dejected buyer of Victoryone Central.
Furthermore, the builder is not ready to honour its own agreement with regard to penalty for delay in possession. Track2Realty has reviewed one of the documents to find that clause 15(c), states that builder has to pay the penalty, as there has been a delay of more than 1.5 years from the actual date of possession as per Allotment Letter Date that is dated 14th April 2013 with Construction Period of 30 months plus 6 month as a grace period (Total 3 Years).
But with the Offer of Possession Demand dated 21st Sept. 2017, there is no mention of any penalty or adjustment against it. The buyers allege that the builder has verbally refused to honour this clause. An email query sent by Track2Realty did not get any response, the builder even refused to speak when approached through the phone calls.
What also raises the doubts over the intent of the builder is the fact that Victoryone still doesn’t have Completion Certificate but there is demand for full and final payment, and even the additional payment. In Final Demand Letter it is clearly mentioned that Victoryone has applied for Completion Certificate which they have not received yet.
Also, as per the last email exchanged with the homebuyers, Victoryone on 13th July 2017, the builder had communicated that they have only applied for Completion Certificate and is expected to receive the same in August 2017 which they have not received.
Sending final demand without having Completion Certificate again raises questions on Victoryone’s intention. As per the market norms, the fit-out period notice of 30 or 45 or 60 days is given on offer of possession when the OC or CC has been obtained. But in this case, the certificate is still awaited.
A few questions that the builder, Victoryone has to answer:
Q. Why didn’t the builder take the consent of two-third of the buyers in exceeding the Super Area by 3.5%?
Q. How much has the carpet area in the given project extended? Or is it just a case of super area being extended that can’t be measured by the homebuyers?
Q. Why the homebuyers were denied an opportunity to evaluate/consult the Builder Buyer Agreement before making payment?
Q. Why is the builder abusing his own agreement with denial to pay penalty to the homebuyers for delay in delivery?
Q. Why is Victoryone asking for full & final payment even before the completion certificate?
Q. After having started fit out in the apartment and full payment received, will the builder compensate the buyers if tomorrow CC is delayed?
Q. Why many of the financial demands are not part of the agreement or were kept hidden at the time of booking?
Q. Does the BBA anywhere mention that only the builder has the right to penalize the buyers, in case of delay or alleged delay?
Q. Is the builder not liable to honour his own one-sided and arbitrary agreement with the buyers?
These questions were raised before Victoryone Infraproject CMD, Sudhir Agarwal. But it seems the builder is so arrogant that he does not care to speak to the journalists.
Track2Realty maintains that in a market like Noida-Greater Noida that is notorious for the lack of professional practices, forget best practices, builders like Victoryone are breaching the low benchmark of builder-buyer trust quotient. It will not only dent the brand reputation of the builder but also affect the sales velocity of the overall market.
By: Ravi Sinha