Buying a house is certainly not a hasty decision one makes in life. It requires one to be wise and careful when it comes to scrutinizing the various aspects of buying.
Buyers often miss significant points only to find themselves in distress later. Maintenance charge is one of the key factors of the home-buying that buyers often ignore.
CHECK BEFORE BOOKING
Almost all housing societies require residents to pay reasonable maintenance charges which may vary from project to project. Buyers must check maintenance charges before booking the flat. This should be calculated before you decide to pay the booking amount to the developer. You must know how much you are supposed to pay as maintenance charges when you actually start living in a project.
“Maintenance charges should be on actuals. It should be an arm’s-length transaction between the developer and maintenance and security companies. There should be a declaration from the developer in the documents itself that they have an arm’s-length transaction and that they are not receiving any remuneration or kick-back commission
Thinkstock for granting such services to the maintenance and security companies, in any form or manner. It is very difficult to estimate the approximate maintenance charges,” Sudip Mullick, partner at Khaitan & Co, says.
CALCULATION OF CHARGES
How do you calculate the maintenance charges for your new house?
Some societies levy the maintenance charges as per the area of the flat while others fix it on other variables when all the apartment are of the same size in that society.
Once you know how the maintenance charges are calculated, you have a basic idea on how much you are supposed to pay. Buyers should agree for only reasonable charges and not any arbitrary demand.
“A buyer should know the facilities provided on the charges paid. In some cases they are calculated on the basis of the area of the property. It can be anywhere between Rs 2-25 per sq ft. Therefore for a 1,500 per sq ft apartment, the maintenance charges at Rs 3 per sq ft will cost approximately Rs 4,500 per month. The builders may take advance maintenance charges for one or two years at the time of possession. Additionally, as per a recent decision of the ministry of finance, cooperative housing societies with monthly maintenance charges of Rs 5,000 or less are exempt from GST and if the total collection is Rs 20 lakh or less, the society need not register under GST,” a leading developer said.
TIME TO PAY
You will be asked to pay maintenance charges at the time of possession. The charges in all societies vary depending on the amenities and location. Some builders may ask you to pay maintenance charges for two years when you take possession but it depends on the builder and the time taken for forming the RWA.
“RERA provisions for time-bound creation of association of allottees and handover of common areas to them ensures transparency with respect to levy of maintenance charges, as the allottees can themselves decide the charges through their association. Further, with promoters enjoined to disclose details of maintenance charges on the website of the state RERA, imposition of arbitrary charges subsequently is avoided,” Rahul Kripalani, a Delhi-based lawyer practising consumer law, says.
PAY AFTER REGISTRY
Some developers ask you to pay maintenance charges along with the electricity meter and other charges due before giving you the keys. You should not pay maintenance charges if project registry has not been made and you do not have an occupancy certificate from the builder.
SAFEGUARD YOUR RIGHTS
Once the RWA of your society is formed, you should take part in the process and make sure that the maintenance charges are reasonable.
There should be no exception and you should not pay for housing units retained by builders as investment. Check what is being spent as maintenance by the developer to ensure you are not paying more than required.
“Maintenance charges are applicable from the time a flat is occupied. Generally, maintenance charge is levied periodically. It is necessary to fund operations related to upkeep, maintenance, and upgrade of areas which are not directly under any individual’s ownership. RERA’s provisions enjoin upon the developer to see that residents don’t pay ad hoc charges. Clear guidelines in the rules make the process smooth for buyers,” Manoj Gaur, vice-president of Credai-National, said.