MahaRERA unriddles ‘carpet area’ under MOFA & RERA | Apartment booked under Maharashtra Ownership of Flats Act, Can complainants claim refund for variation in area of apartment as sale agreement was executed as per RERA Act?

Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority, Mumbai (MahaRERA): While focusing on the definition of carpet area in Pre-RERA and Post-RERA, Coram of Ajoy Mehta (Chairperson MahaRERA) observed that,

“If the promoter is duty-bound to honour the agreement for sale in its true letter and spirit so also the allottee is duty-bound to adhere to the terms of the agreement for sale and either party cannot shun their duties and responsibilities under the agreement for sale.”

In the present matter, respondents had registered their project “EMERALD ISLE-T8” under Section 5 of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016.

Complainants seeks the following reliefs:

“Refund is demanded for the excess funds collected by LAT Realty for carpet area of 57.60 square feet at the rate of Rs 28,L3L.67 amounting to Rs 1-6,20,384 plus interest at RERA applicable rate from the date of first payment.”

Issue for consideration:

  • Whether the complaint is barred by the principle of res judicata?
  • Whether the Complainants are entitled to claim refund for difference/variation in area of the said apartment and interest thereon from date of payment of the excess amount?

Respondent had raised the issue of the principle of res judicata stating that a matter that was finally decided on merits cannot be litigated again between the same parties.

However, from the submissions of the Respondent herein it is clear that the earlier complaint No. CC00600000000000414 was filed for the purpose of seeking interest for delayed possession and the Complainants in the present complaint is seeking a refund of the difference in the carpet area of the said apartment with interest as applicable thereon.

Further, it was noted that the complainants had signed a letter whereby they confirmed and agreed to their absolute satisfaction and assured the respondent that they shall not be claiming anything further through any forum/Court.

Hence, the above-stated letter certainly binds the complainants from raising any further issues with regard to the said apartment and MahaRERA expresses displeasure with regard to the complainants turning away from their own words and commitments.

Adding to the above, Authority stated that the instant complaint was filed with a different issue and hence the principle of res judicata was not applicable and thus issue 1 was answered in negative.

Definition of carpet area under Section 2(k) of the said Act. It reads thus:

“carpet area” means net usable floor area of an apartment, excluding the area covered by the external walls, area under services, shafts, exclusive balcony or verandah area and exclusive open terrace area, but including the area covered by the internal partition walls of the Apartment.”

 Under MOFA, Section 3(m), Promoter was to disclose one of the particulars in the advertisement for sale of flats and clause (i) states the particulars to the extent of carpet area of the flat including the areas of balconies whereas under RERA, balconies have been excluded in the definition of carpet area.

Coram stated that it was clear from the facts of the complaint that on the date of booking of the said apartment MOFA was in effect and on the date of the said agreement RERA was holding the ground.

A very pertinent observation was made, that the carpet area was defined differently in both the Acts.

Hence, there was no actual change but simply a variation/difference in the methodology of calculation of carpet area as per MOFA and RERA from time to time.

Since the allotment letter was dated 1-10-2015 which was Pre-RERA i.e. MOFA was applicable for calculating carpet area and after May 2017 RERA was applicable after which the said agreement was executed i.e. 20-12-2017

Therefore, no ambiguity on the issue of carpet area was found resulting in no refund and interest.

Coram while concluding added that the discrepancy/variation/difference in terms of the carpet area of the said apartment was as per the said agreement which provided that a variation of up to 3% on account of any design change and construction exigencies which the complainant was aware of and the same had been agreed upon by them. Thus, raising an issue at a later point was not acceptable nor could be changed as the agreement was binding upon both parties.

In the present matter, complainants chose to raise an unreasonable dispute in a very irresponsible manner, leading to wasting the time of the Authority.

Cost of Rs 20,000 was imposed on the complainant and the complaint was dismissed in view of the above.[Deepak Pande v. Larsen & Toubro Ltd., Complaint No. CC006000000100256, decided on 17-08-2021]

Advocate before the Authority:

Advocate Subhashree Chatterjee for the Respondent

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