The homebuyers’ associations meant to serve the purpose of consumer grievances are increasingly exceeding their legal & ethical limits to turn into de facto consumer courts. Ravi Sinha finds that the primitive instinct of recognition & reward goads many of these associations to take up the cudgels on behalf of the buyers and ends up in connivance with the builders.
Noida is definitely not the most happening real estate market in the country by any stretch of imagination. Yet, in terms of the consumer activism & its by-product consumer blackmailing it is by far the most happening market. There are no less than half a dozen homebuyers’ associations who are constantly at war with one another for being the frontrunner in championing the cause of the homebuyers.
It has been an ugly spat in front of the Corporate Office of Noida-based Amrapali Group one fine morning that has failed to deliver the apartments to thousands of homebuyers. At least three buyers’ associations were jostling against each other to claim they are the official homebuyers’ voice to protest.
While the harassed homebuyers were looking clueless, the core agenda of ‘Justice for Amrapali Homebuyers’ was lost in the dogfight of these associations. Each buyer associations with their handful of slogan shouting supporters were name calling others, terming them outsiders, and glorifying their association as the only representative for the buyers of Amrapali.
Needless to add, in this cacophony the core issue was relegated to the dustbin and each association blamed the other for this lack of cohesiveness and defeat of the cause.
Reality check of homebuyers’ associations
All homebuyers’ associations are not trustworthy; often self-serving or custodians of the interests of builders
Multiple homebuyers’ associations in the same market often jostle and fight to claim their only authority
Homebuyers’ causes are often compromised when buyers’ associations hijack the core agenda
Check the credentials of buyers’ association before approaching them with grievances
As a matter of fact, some of the buyers’ associations in the city are nowadays openly advertising on the social media to inform which project they are reaching next with date and time mentioned and invite the aggrieved homebuyers to come forward to share their grievances. The fact remains that none of these associations have the locus standi or legal teeth to invite the grievances of the consumers.
This is not just a Noida reality. The real estate markets across the major cities is today witness to a new spate of consumer activism which is more political in its functioning than consumer centric. Worse even, many of them even operate as the de facto consumer courts in advising others in how they should take on the builders.
For example, post the Competition Commission of India (CCI) slapping a fine of INR 630 crore on the realty major DLF in the case of abuse of dominant position in its project The Belaire, the RWA of the project suddenly had its hands full in advising other RWAs and buyers’ associations in confronting the builders.
Next: Legal limits & liability of homebuyers’ associations