Stuck project - builder not delivering

You bought an under-construction property. The project was supposed to complete in a certain timeline. The builder is delaying the same and there is very little or no progress, and you have serious doubts about the developer completing the project. This happens more often than you might realize.

Let’s first accept that this is not a good place to be. You have a problem, and let’s face it.

And now we need to work on solving that problem.

The first thing to remember if you happen to have this issue, is not to play the victim card. Of course, you should be upset and angry and complain about this. But that will not solve your problem. Miracles will not happen. You have to take control, work out your options and solve your problem. As they say “God helps those who help themselves.”

Now, if we have decided to take control and solve the problem, let's get mentally ready for a long ride. Here is what you can then start doing:

  1. Get all the buyers who are stuck, together. This is the first thing to do. Form a group. Share notes. Understand how each one has been dealing with the issue, and the communication they have had with the developer. Put everything down in writing. A shared google sheet works great for this.
  2. In the group, see if anyone has a lawyer in their friends and family network and talk to 2–3 lawyers to get some friendly advice first. Do this before hiring any lawyers. Even when you do hire a lawyer, you will probably need more than 1 lawyer, as you will be working on several things in parallel, as explained below.
  3. Court order to Legally Stop EMIs - It’s bad enough to be stuck on a project having made a down payment, but it's even worse if every month your EMI is getting deducted and you cannot stop that for the sake of your credit score! So, this is again, one of the first few things to work on. You will need to hire a lawyer who will fight your specific case for you. Also be clear under what terms your EMI has been stopped. Is it just temporary and what the implications are. Please do NOT stop paying your EMI without a court order first.
  4. Form an association - Now, in India you cannot file a case as a group against a private entity. Each of the cases that the buyers will need to file, will be separate cases. That’s where an association comes in. An association is a single entity and there will be certain cases you can then file as an association. This will reduce the financial burden to a large extent as the costs are shared.
  5. Negotiate - So, there are multiple parties involved in a project. There is the land-owner, there is the contractor and investor in addition to the developer. A good place to start is to meet all these folks and understand their side of the story. There will be other parties who are aggrieved as well. They should know that you have already taken action by coming together as a group and mean business. This gives you more negotiating power. Once you understand the stand of the other parties, you can see if you come to an amicable solution. As an example, the investor may bring in another developer at a certain cost to the other parties. There could be several other solutions as well. Remember, that negotiating is a much better option that being stuck for years. This is not about fairness. This is about moving forward.
  6. If negotiation has not helped move things forward, there are several things you can do. Please take advice from your lawyer on what you should be doing in your specific case:
    1. File a RERA complaint (for RERA registered properties) - RERA is the Real Estate Regulatory Authority. This can be easily filed online if you have all the papers in place.
    2. File a criminal complaint against the builder
    3. Go to NCRDC (consumer court). For this, you need to have minimum ticket size. Hence you need file as an association to meet that ticket size requirement.
    4. Go to NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal).

Some of these items can be done in parallel, and some cannot. Once again, please proceed only after advice from a lawyer.

All the best. We hope you find a resolution soon.

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