Did you know that when you buy a property, it’s not just the house or apartment that you are entitled to possess? According to the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA), 2016, there are certain infrastructural utilities that the developers must provide to the owners. These are broadly categorised as “Common Areas and Facilities” under section 2(n) of RERA and all property owners are granted certain rights over such areas and facilities.
The Madras High Court recently ruled that common areas in a real estate project belong to the flat owners and not the builders. Any alteration to or in the common areas cannot be done by the builder without consulting the property owners. A Chennai based apartment owners’ association had filed a writ petition against the builder of the apartment for wrongfully constructing another building on the allotted common area of the apartment and letting it out for non-residential purposes. The Court held this construction illegal and instructed the builder to allot it to the apartment owners’ association.
Always check to ensure that the conveyance deed to a property you are buying includes your rights over the common areas and facilities along with the right to possess it. Remember that the access to and determination of what constitutes common areas and facilities are governed by the local municipal laws. Here are some amenities that RERA lists as necessary inclusions under the “common areas and facilities” clause:
- Staircases, lifts, lobby areas of staircase and lift, fire exits, and common entrances of the buildings that facilitate access to the building. It also must meet accessibility requirements for people with disabilities, such as ramps, wide doorways, and accessible elevators.
- Parking spaces, play areas, open parks, jogging tracks, common basements, terrace, and any common spaces for storage purposes.
- Accommodations for property’s staff and personnel.
- Provisions for functioning electrical and plumbing systems that meet safety codes.
- Smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and fire escapes
- Sewage and waste disposal systems
- Community facilities as may be specified in the deed.
Who can access the common areas and facilities?
Property owners get an undivided share in accessing and using the common areas and facilities. No individual owner is allowed to use these for their own interest or benefit.
Common areas also help maintain the easementary rights of apartment owners. Easement means ‘right to way’. It refers to a person’s right to have access to enter or exit their property, even through areas or property that may not belong to them. This right to way is essential if its absence prevents a person from enjoying their property.
Even in cases where the undivided share of common areas between the builders and the property owners remain ambiguous, you are entitled to access the way to your property.
What are the laws that cover “Common Areas and Facilities”?
To learn more about your rights while buying and selling property, read our explainer on how to use your property effectively.