Cabinet nod for amendments to Real Estate Bill

The Bill seeks to bring under its ambit all commercial real estate and ongoing projects, as well as brokers, while safeguarding consumers

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NEW DELHI, Apr 7: Paving the way for regulation of realty business, the Union Cabinet today approved amendments to the long-pending real estate bill to bring under its ambit commercial and all ongoing projects as also brokers, while safeguarding consumers. While the Bill already provides for strict penalties including jail for errant builders, the amendments seek to make it mandatory for all developers, including of housing projects, to keep minimum 50 percent of funds collected from buyers in a escrow account to meet construction cost. Through the amendments to the Real Estate Bill of 2013, the Cabinet has extended the applicability of the Bill to commercial real estate also. Ongoing projects that have not received Completion Certificates have also been brought under the purview of the real estate bill and such projects will need to be registered with a proposed regulator within 3 months. Another major modification is that promoters will not be allowed to change plans and structural designs without the consent of 2/3rd of consumers of a project, according to an official statement. Real estate agents also have been made punishable for non-compliance of orders of regulatory authority. Appellate Tribunals will also be set up under the proposed law, once the real estate bill is passed. Under the other new stipulations approved by the Cabinet, states have to make rules in this regard within one year. Adjudicating officers will have rank equivalent to that of District Judges. Besides, an online system for submitting applications for registration of projects will be introduced within one year of the establishment of regulatory authorities. Regulator will have to decide cases within 60 days. Under the real estate bill, piloted by the Housing and Poverty Alleviation Ministry and introduced in Rajya Sabha in August 2013, real estate project developers both in residential and commercial sectors will be required to register their projects with the proposed regulatory authorities. Promoters will be mandatorily required to disclose all information regarding promoters, project, layout plan, schedule of development works, land status, status of statutory approvals, proforma agreements, names and addresses of real estate agents, contractors, architect and structural engineer. Developers welcomed the proposal for having a regulator under the the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2013, but expressed concerns over retrospective application with regard to registration of all ongoing projects.