Mumbai: Housing society ordered to pay flat owner Rs 1.2 lakh over failure to fix leakage

December 18, 2022
Mumbai: Housing society ordered to pay flat owner Rs 1.2 lakh over failure to fix leakage

MUMBAI: Observing that it is the responsibility of a housing society to protect the interests of all its members and not be selective about whom to support, a district consumer commission has ordered a housing society in Borivli to pay a compensation of Rs 1.2 lakh to a flat owner after it took only “half hearted measures” to fix a leakage problem.

The complainant, Lourdes Dias, alleged that the problem arose due to the unauthorised changes made by the owners of four flats in the adjacent wing. The commission said that the society should have taken stringent measures against those flat owners.

“The fact that the complainant’s flat became non-habitable due to leakage and subsequently developed the problem of white ants, we concur it would have caused her much mental agony and distress and she is liable to be compensated,” the commission said. The commission also directed the society to take initiatives to appoint an expert commissioner to verify the exact source of leakage within two months charges for which will be borne by the erring flat members and the complainant.The woman currently lives in Goa.

“The complainant is granted liberty to carry out repairs to the leakage caused in her flat and submit the expenditure bills to the opposite party – society – for reimbursement,” the Mumbai Suburban District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission said recently.

The commission said that Ruby Apartment A & B CHS Ltd had admittedly not taken any action for such violation by the respective flat members despite having passed a resolution for taking action. “Moreover, even the money deposited by respective flat owners has been returned despite such violations of original plans, and no permissions obtained from the authorities concerned. Such an inaction and refund on part of the opposite party – society, in our opinion would squarely fall under the scope of deficiency of service,” the commission said.

The commission also said that the photos produced by Dias showed that her flat was in a bad condition. “…while we do appreciate that partly the condition could be because of non-occupation of the flat, it cannot be expected that when such leakage and damages have occurred to her flat, the complainant and her family can continue living in the same premises,” the commission said.

It further said that writing letters and calling meetings to solve Dias’ problems are only half-hearted measures, when the society was in the position to take more stringent action for clear violation of original building plans by flat owners.

Dias submitted the complaint in 2014. She said in 2008 without permission of the society or BMC, the flat owners of the adjacent wing renovated and made illegal changes in their flats, changed pipelines, dismantled and altered the position of kitchen, toilet and bathrooms and kept 1,000-litre water tank adjacent to wall, due to which water seeped into her kitchen and bedroom. She said that this had damaged her household articles, wall plastering, cupboards, wooden fixtures, main door and electrical wiring. Dias said that she made several complaints to the society, BMC and even local corporator. She alleged bias by the society due to a close family relationship between one of its members and one of the flat owners who had made alleged unauthorised changes.

The society denied the allegations and also submitted that in a case filed by the BMC against two of the four flat owners for allegedly making illegal alterations had led to an acquittal. It also submitted that it had tried to solve problems by inviting all parties concerned but Dias was not in a mood to settle the matter. It also said that the leakage problem started almost three years after the alleged changes were made and that Dias had not properly inspected her own flat.

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