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Cooperative Housing Societies and issues plaguing them

Gajanan Khergamker | Mumbai

The onus lies primarily on the cooperative housing society to bear the costs in question. According to Bye-law no. 160 of the Model bye laws, the Cooperative Housing Society should carry out repairs to the terrace, all leakages of water and roofs of the flat and ceiling and the plaster thereon on the top floor affected on account of the leakages of the rain water through the terrace, at its cost. No other member, top-floor member or otherwise, must bear the expenditure in full or part.

In case the society fails to do so, any affected member of the society can, after giving due notice to the secretary and managing committee of the society of the same, on his own accord carry out the repairs to the terrace. However, he should give proper opportunity to the society to conduct its own repairs and can claim expenses from the society.

Lift Charges Equal to All

The recovery of lift charges and use of the same continue to bother a lot of cooperative housing societies across Mumbai. However, the law is very clear on this. Under Section 69 (a) (iv) of the New Model Bye-laws, it is clearly mentioned that all members should bear lift expenses equally. It has also been clarified that payment should be made by all members whether they avail the lift facility or not.
The rationale behind this is the same as that goes into societies charging service charges equally to all members irrespective of the size of flat/room they reside in. After all, it enhances the value - both aesthetic and commercial - of the CHS in question, doesn’t it?

As the reasoning goes, when you finally decide to move out of this place, it’ll fetch you a lot more if the structure has a lift than otherwise.

Minutes should be exact, accurate

According to the law, a minute-by-minute account of the meetings, proceedings and resolutions taken and rejected at the meeting have to be recorded. Minutes, as the very term suggests, comprises a minute-by-minute account of the meeting answering what happened, when did it happen and who was involved.

It should be recorded in the minutes book which serves as legal proof and evidence of all the members of the society and concerned parties. It is the onus of the secretary of the society to write down minutes of all the meetings of the general body.

The committee should finalise the minutes of every general body of the society within three months of the date of the meeting and circulate them among the members within 15 days of the meeting of the committee at which the draft minutes were finalised.

If there are any discrepancies in the draft minutes, the member can, within 15 days of receipt of the draft minutes circulated, write to the secretary about the changes to be included. The committee at its subsequent meeting shall finalise the minutes after taking into consideration the changes / recommendations suggested.

NOC Cannot Be Levied On a Family Member

Many homeowners invest in property and gain an ongoing income by sub-letting and renting out their properties. But before sub-letting or renting out a property or properties, it is important to remember that no member of a cooperative housing society can sub-lease or give his flat on leave and license basis or give his flat on a care-taker without the express permission of the society.

Any member wishing to do so should let the society know of his intention and only after obtaining a receipt of the committee’s permission in writing can he carry out the said activities. This also applies to members who give only part of their flats out on rent in the form of paying guests.

Members wanting to sublet their flats should first make an application in the prescribed form. In the application, they should apply for nominal membership of the proposed sub-lettee, licensee or care-taker. Members should also give an undertaking to the society, in which they agree to continue paying the society’s maintenance charges during the period of sublease.

The society though cannot levy non-occupancy charges if the flat is being occupied by the ‘family’ of the member as defined under these bye-laws. This includes mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter, son-in-law, brother-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandson, granddaughter and any other relations of a member.

The managing committee of a society can also have a say about the length of time a flat can given on leave and license or sub-lease and restrict the period to only eleven months. This period can be extended to a similar length or a part of it on the request of the member. Bye-law number 65 expressly states a proper procedure for the correct disposal of an application made by a member for the purpose of sub-letting, renting or leasing his or her flat. The secretary and the managing committee of a society should make sure that this procedure is always followed properly.

Non-resident Indians (NRIs) holding Indian Passports generally have permission from the Reserve Bank of India to purchase property in India after submitting the required document proofs. Once members of a cooperative housing society, these NRIs can also sub-let their flats but the rental income received cannot be remitted outside the country and has to be credited to an ordinary non-resident bank account.

Parking Issue Remains Scourge

One of the most common issues that have to be dealt with in almost every co-operative housing society (CHS) is that of parking. Often CHS members are not aware of the hows and whys of the allotment of parking space within the society…and, that’s what leads to most of the parking-related problems.

Incidentally, there’re some very basic rules and regulations vis-à-vis parking space in every CHS that every member must be aware of. For instance, though a member, having a motor vehicle, is eligible to have a stilt or a parking space, under normal circumstances, no member is eligible for being allotted more than one parking space.

No member is entitled to utilise more parking spaces/ stilts than what was allotted to him by the society or was purchased by him. It happens only in cases where, if some space remains un-allotted for want of applications for allotments, a second or third parking space may be allotted to a member who already has been allotted a parking space.

Such additional allotments are made on year-to-year basis, provided the same is not required by another member, who has not been allotted even a single parking space. And, in case the number of vehicles of CHS members exceeds the available parking space, the managing committee allots parking space by “lot” on a yearly basis.

The allotment of parking space is usually made by the committee on the basis of ‘First Come First Served’ for unsold and available parking spaces.

There’s a very simple procedure for a member to obtain parking space in a CHS. All a member needs to do is make an application for parking space to the secretary of the society furbishing necessary details. Then, the secretary and the managing committee of the society can do the needful to accommodate the member’s need.

Besides, it’s the duty of the managing committee to ensure that the space is used by the members only for the purpose for which it is allotted to them. Most CHS number the parking space in such a way that no inconvenience is caused to any of the members who’ve been allotted the parking space.

Another point of contention is the payment of parking charges. Every member, who has been allotted a parking space, is required to pay parking charges decided in the general body meeting of the CHS, irrespective of the fact whether the member actually parks his vehicle in the allotted space or not.

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