Monday, August 27, 2018

Flat owner can’t recover house repair cost from society

A flat owner cannot recover cost of repairs to his flat from the society, Bombay high court has said. Justice Ramesh Dhanuka struck down a 16-year-old order passed by the secretary, cooperating department of the state and the deputy registrar, cooperative societies directing Maitri Park housing society in Chembur to reimburse repair costs incurred by the member. The society had claimed that it was not liable to reimburse the costs of repairs to the terrace and the flat.

"It is the case of the society that the member has not only claimed for the repairs to the terrace and other structures but has also got his flat repaired... In my view, such demand by the member for repairs allegedly carried out in his flat from the society even otherwise was totally untenable," said the judge.
The Court said registrar could only decide on administrative issues like maintenance of accounts and not disputes between parties. The judge pointed out that the provisions under the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act, the registrar is empowered to look into issues relating to the maintenance of accounts, filing of returns, but had nothing to do with the "obligations of the society to carry out repairs in respect of the tenements occupied by the members."
The society set up in the 1960s, comprised of 32 buildings of ground plus one storey and 12 buildings of ground plus two to four storeys. In the ground plus one storey structures, the lower floor flats had exclusive access to individual gardens while the first floor flats had exclusive use of their respective terrace. In 2000, the society passed a resolution refunding the amount collected towards repair funds to its members. The flat owners on the ground floor and first floor were responsible for maintaining and carrying out repairs for their respective gardens and terraces.
The dispute was raised by a member on the first floor asking the society to carry out repairs to the terrace. The deputy registrar in 2002 ordered the society to carry out repairs. Subsequently, it appointed the member itself as an agent of the registrar authorising him to carry out repairs. The member carried out repairs and submitted a bill of around Rs 1,82,000. The society said that following the 2002 resolution and refunding of the repair fund, it was not liable to carry out repairs.
The HC agreed and struck down the orders of the deputy registrar which was subsequently upheld by the secretary.

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