14 MARCH 2016
Answer questions in NOT MORE than 200 words each. Content of the answer is more important than its length.
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1. On one hand, India faces a severe housing shortage and on the other, buyers are put off by sky-high real estate prices and the unscrupulous practices of many developers. In this context, discuss the major provisions of the The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2013.
Highlights of the Bill
· The Bill regulates transactions between buyers and promoters of residential real estate projects. It establishes state level regulatory authorities called Real Estate Regulatory Authorities (RERAs).
· Residential real estate projects, with some exceptions, need to be registered with RERAs. Promoters cannot book or offer these projects for sale without registering them. Real estate agents dealing in these projects also need to register with RERAs.
· On registration, the promoter must upload details of the project on the website of the RERA. These include the site and layout plan, and schedule for completion of the real estate project.
· 70% of the amount collected from buyers for a project must be maintained in a separate bank account and must only be used for construction of that project. The state government can alter this amount to less than 70%.
· The Bill establishes state level tribunals called Real Estate Appellate Tribunals. Decisions of RERAs can be appealed in these tribunals.
Key Issues and Analysis
· One may question Parliament’s jurisdiction to make laws related to real estate as “land” is in the State List of the Constitution. However, it may be argued that the primary aim of this Bill is to regulate contracts and transfer of property, both of which are in the Concurrent List.
· Some states have enacted laws to regulate real estate projects. The Bill differs from these state laws on several grounds. It will override the provisions of these state laws in case of any inconsistencies.
· The Bill mandates that 70% of the amount collected from buyers of a project be used only for construction of that project. In certain cases, the cost of construction could be less than 70% and the cost of land more than 30% of the total amount collected. This implies that part of the funds collected could remain unutilized, necessitating some financing from other sources. This could raise the project cost.
· The Standing Committee examining the Bill has made several recommendations. These include: (a) the Bill should also regulate commercial real estate, (b) smaller projects should also be covered, and (c) all real estate agents must be required to register.
· The real estate sector has some other issues such as a lengthy process for project approvals, lack of clear land titles, and prevalence of black money. Some of these fall under the State List.