A car boom in the major metropolises of the country of late has resulted in the number of cars outstripping the parking spaces. The builders of housing complexes are minting money out of this. Several flat-owners all over our country have dealt with the menace of buying car parking space from builders at ridiculous costs. The price demanded by builders for a single parking space is anywhere in the range of one lakh to fifteen lakh rupees. Some of the richer flat-owners with a lot of disposable income even purchase multiple parking spaces for themselves.
One such harrowed customer contacted our team last week, and asked us to provide him with the information on this matter. Since helping hapless consumers from those evil, avaricious villains on the other side of economic transactions is what we live for, we got down to it. So read on, for we are going to tell you what those builder dudes do not want you to know, especially if you just bought a flat from them and have a car or two with you.
On August 31, 2010, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, in the case of Nahalchand Laloochand P. Ltd. vs. Panchali Co-Op. Housing Sty. Ltd. held that “Open-to-sky” areas or “stilted” (covered) portions of their flat complexes, usable as parking spaces, cannot be sold separately by flat builders/promoters/developers as “garage”. The court reasoned that these spaces are part of the “common areas” in flat complexes and are therefore not “saleable independently as a flat or along with a flat”. This is a landmark judgment, and the first to conclusively deal with this issue. For those who do not know, the dictums of the Supreme Court are as good as law since it is the apex judicial institution in the country. Therefore, unless a law is made which specifically overrules this decision (Hah, imagine the utter uproar that a legislation mandating flat-owners to pay lakhs to flat builders shall cause!), the word of the Supreme Court is binding, and shall have to be followed by all other courts, tribunals and judicial forums across the country. The full judgment can be found here.
That this judgment has already set a precedent is manifest in some other judicial pronouncement on this matter in the recent past. The Bombay High Court, on March 7 this year, held in the case of Vijay Pandurang Vaidya and Anr. vs. Credence Property Developers Pvt. Ltd. that builders cannot sell car parking spaces in housing societies, as these are to be allotted to them free of cost. You can read the full text of the judgment here.
Late last year, the Mumbai Suburban District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum held that developers cannot make a flat owner pay extra for parking place-open and covered-within the complex, as it amounts to an unfair trade practice. While giving this decision, the forum kept in mind the aforementioned Supreme Court judgment.
Then earlier this year, the Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission also adjudicated similarly in a case, and held that a builder has no right to sell stilt parking or open parking. The Commission also said “The builder/developer has no right to interfere in the society’s affairs; the society and general body are the supreme authorities to decide issues faced by complainants pertaining to open parking and stilt parking space”. To get more scoop on this case, read this article by the Times of India. Our team also covered a similar judgment of the Additional Pune District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, which you can read here.
Moreover, the Andhra Pradesh High Court has held in the case of Ch. Madan Mohan and Ors. vs. Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad and Anr. that the builders of commercial complexes cannot lease out parking areas or collect fees on them, since the builders are under a legal obligation to keep the parking place for use by visitors to the complex. The All India Reporter citation of the case is AIR 2003 AP 393, for those who do not believe us and want to ascertain our claims by going through the full judgment.
Hence, there is sufficient case law to provide relief to all those who have been alarmed by the prospect of paying exorbitant amounts for parking spaces for their cars which have anyways been drilling holes in their pockets, what with fuel prices going through the roof (And before someone asks us, the government is well within its right to charge as much on pretty much anything it wants to, as long as it can provide legitimate grounds for the price hike). Therefore, if your flat builder charges you for car parking, let him know that it is illegal. And if he still does not relent, sue him in a consumer forum.