As Hubtown Greenwoods Is Delayed, Buyers Take To The Streets

In our continued spotlight on project delays, we look at the Hubtown Greenwoods project in Thane, Mumbai. Consisting of 6 wings, the project was launched in 2009 with delivery promised between 2011 and 2014 as the phases were completed. But cut to 2016 and it is clear that the project is a long way away from being ready.

Hubtown Greenwoods Buyers Protest Against Delays

Shouts of protest and placards and banners filled the air, as hundreds of homebuyers gathered outside Hubtown’s Greenwoods project to protest against delays. Nearly 900 families have been affected, with homebuyers accusing the company of making false promises on completion timelines.

“We came to know through Hubtown that we will get soft-possession i.e. the key of our ready house which will be opened for renovation. May is nearly at an end and only 3 floors have been opened for the so-called soft possession. Yet, they are still insisting that they have not faltered on the commitment.” said Anuradha Kadam, a buyer in Hubtown Greenwoods.

“Time and again they have made excuses, and avoided meeting customers to discuss handing over possession. It is going on from 2011 onwards. We have made several requests to please handover possession but they are not bothered to meet the customer also.” claims an outraged Sanjay Sharma, another buyer.

When NDTV visited the project, the superstructure of the six wings had been setup. However, buyer testimony and an examination of project photographs showed that this has been the situation for the past couple of years, with no new construction seeming to have taken place. In an email statement, the company stated that “Hubtown Limited is committed to achieve phase wise completion of project Hubtown Greenwoods. We have already started the fit outs. Possession of all the flats shall be completed within a period of one year from today that is on or before June 2017 and will be done in phases.” But buyers have rejected this statement and are demanding delivery of their homes by Diwali this year.

Hubtown Blames Government For Delays

When NDTV contacted Hubtown, the developers blamed the project delays on government not sanctioning approvals, specifically ‘further commencement certificates’ in time. Hubtown claimed that the last of these certificates were only received in 2015, but the company did not elaborate on whether the delays were caused due to inaction by the government or the developer. However, legal experts say this doesn’t let the developer off the hook.

“The developer may be right, but then what steps has he taken? Has he complied with the compliances required of him? Most of the time these developers do not comply and if they have and yet the approvals have not come in time, then they should have filed a writ petition in the high court against the authorities. Even consumers can make these authorities a party to the delays. In fact, the national commission is insisting on it.” says property lawyer and housing expert Uday Wavikar.

In the meantime, Hubtown has taken pains to point out to NDTV that they are not asking the Greenwoods buyers to pay for the escalation in the price of the project over the past few years. ‘Greenwoods’ is currently being priced at Rs 10,500 per sq. feet compared to an average of Rs 10,777 per sq. feet for Thane West. However, buyers don’t find this to be any consolation.

“He keeps making veiled threats about passing on the escalation in costs to us. He keeps saying that as a gesture of good will, we are not charging escalation to the customers. I don’t think that is any gesture of goodwill. The minute he charges us escalation, he knows the consequences.” warns Nafisa Barodawala, a member of the Greenwoods Buyer Movement

In any case, legal experts say no developer can pass on escalation in costs to the buyer, regardless of what the agreement says. The other option is for these homebuyers to sell their stake in the project and invest elsewhere. But here too, they claim the developer is charging them extra in the form of ‘Transfer Charges’, another unfair trade practice. If this is true, then it is easy to see why home buyers have so little trust in the real estate sector. Authorities and good developers must do their bit to stop these practices, or risk the real estate slump continuing for a couple more years.

Nikhil Narayan Sivadas, Assistant Editor, NDTV


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