After booking a two-bedroom apartment of their choice in a project by city builder, Goel Ganga Group, a serving army officer, Major Harshinder Thakur, and his wife Preetika were shocked to know that the price of the apartment had been raised by almost 20% in six months.
The couple had booked the apartment measuring 915 square feet for Rs2,700 per square foot (PSF) by paying a token amount of Rs1 lakh in June last year in Ganga Sparsh, in Undri. But the developer hiked the PSF to Rs3,200 by January this year.
The couple was left with two choices: accept the new PSF price or take back the booking amount and cancel the booking.
“Accepting either of the two options is unfair to us. We zeroed down the project keeping several aspects in mind, including the reputation of the builder. Six months later, he can’t tell us either to pay more or cancel the booking because we won’t get another apartment for the same price in the same area. If we had known that the apartment would be beyond our budget we would have gone to another builder and not lost out on time,” argued Preetika.
The managing director of the Goel Ganga Group, Atul Goel said, “I can understand the couple’s predicament. But I am helpless as the project got delayed due to certain revision of plans that we had to apply for after the town planning department changed its by-laws. Our sanctioned plans had to be put up for revision, which took almost a year.”
Goel said the group is willing to return the booking amount with interest and have also offered them the apartment at Rs3,000 PSF, even though the present selling price is Rs3,500 PSF. “I don’t want to jeopardise our relationship with our customers,” he added.
The builder’s explanations did not cut ice with the couple, who claimed that they have already incurred a cumulative loss of about Rs50,000 as a result of the delay. “We don’t want to accept this type of behaviour since it is principally not right. We can accept his new quoted price, but we fear it would set a bad precedent and would be unethical,” reiterated Preetika.
According to city based eminent consumer activist, Sudhakar Velankar, the builder is bound by the price he quoted initially. “Under the Contract Act he is bound by the paper work he issued to the buyer wherein a price of Rs2,700 PSF is quoted specifically and for which he took the booking amount,” he said.
According to Velankar, if the builder doubted that the project was not feasible in the price quoted in June 2010, he should have issued a supplementary contract highlighting probable price escalation.
While the stand-off between the parties continues, the Thakurs have written to the Pune chapter of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India on February 1, 2011, seeking their intervention, but are yet to receive any response.