Mar 11, 2022

Buying a flat: Your rights as a consumer

The Supreme Court has said that if a property developer does not provide a flat within the time specified in the contract, the flat buyer can approach the Consumer Court for compensation. If the developer does not provide the flat to a flat purchaser on time, it is considered a deficiency under the Consumer Protection Act.

Consumer rights of a flat buyer

Under the Act, ‘deficiency’ includes any fault/shortcoming in the quality and performance required from a person. This person could be someone who has a contractual responsibility, or any person providing a service. A ‘service’ refers to any service which is made available to potential users. This includes providing facilities related to housing construction.

The Supreme Court said that flat purchasers suffer agony and harassment because of the default of the developer. Flat purchasers make assessments about the future of their lives based on the flat they have purchased. These expectations are affected when the developer delays in fulfilling the contractual obligation to provide a flat on time.

Further, the Supreme Court stated that the Consumer Court has the power to order a person to remove the deficiency in the service. In relation to this power, the Consumer Court can also provide compensation to a flat buyer for the delay caused by the developer in handing over the possession of a flat to the buyer.

The Supreme Court referred to its judgement in Lucknow Development Authority v. MK Gupta which settled that the Consumer Court has the power to award compensation to reduce the harassment and agony of a consumer. The word compensation has a very wide meaning. Legally, it can include actual loss or expected loss, and may also include physical, mental or emotional suffering. The Consumer Court is allowed to determine the compensation for any loss or damage suffered by a consumer and can compensate him for any injustice.

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