POSTED ON July 15, 2019

Unregistered Housing Societies

A registered society is a legal entity by itself, subject to the laws, liabilities, and rights under the government of India. Mandatory bye-laws applicable to a registered society ensure smooth functioning of the day to day affairs and in case of disputes, faster and more streamlined resolutions are available to the registered housing societies. Let’s understand why it is critical to register a society.

Why is it important to register a society?

The Societies Registration Act 1960 or a registration act applied by the state government provides clearly defined steps on how to register a housing society. Listed below are the advantages of registering your society: 1. Regular and uniform maintenance charges: Only if your society is registered, the model bye-laws are applicable to every resident. Each member is mandated to pay maintenance charges under the law. In an unregistered society or apartment association, members cannot be forced to do so. In most cases, the members are themselves held accountable for fixing any damage or paying for services since there is no managing committee to look after such needs. Thus it has been observed that while in an unregistered society, some members get together, form an Adhoc committee and collect maintenance charges. Some members pay willingly while others refuse to pay up, burdening others with their share of financial responsibility. In the case of a registered society, the Managing Committee can penalise defaulting members and collect the dues as well as interest. 2. Internal dispute resolution: The managing committee of the society has the right to act as a mediator or arbitrator with the power to resolve disputes among members. In case of an unregistered society, with no supervising authority, petty or big disputes such as parking slot occupancy, late-night partying, the encroachment of space, etc.persists without a satisfactory resolution. In worst-case scenarios, members facing major problems have the option to approach the police or civil court. But if a society is registered, many problems find solutions with peaceful negotiation and conflict resolution provided by the managing committee. 3. Tax benefits: An unregistered society cannot avail and enjoy the tax benefits provided to a registered society. In other words, tax is levied on the society if registered, not on the individual members, thus certain exemptions that co-operative societies enjoy are not open to individual unregistered societies. 4. Better financial accountability: Registered societies have a separate bank account under the society’s name devoted only for the financial transactions of the society. They have the right to collect deposits, annual Sinking Fund and regular maintenance charges from the members. Thus any emergency expenses or repair are promptly and easily taken care of. Yearly financial audits ensure no embezzlement occurs. In the case of unregistered societies, members pay heavy amounts out of pocket to fix any broken amenities or if an emergency occurs. This is not a feasible approach to handling financial management in the long run. 5. Complete rights over premises: In the case of a registered housing society, the builder hands over the charge of entire premises to the society. In case of a standalone apartment complex or unregistered society, the builder has the right to common areas including terraces, parking areas, etc., which they can put for sale. Increased Floor Space Index (FSI) is also of interest to the builder. Registered societies have the right to all the premises including FSI, thus giving them complete autonomy of occupation and management. 6. Safer environment: In a registered society, the homeowner is required to take the permission of the society before renting out his residence and a screening/ police verification is done. In the case of unregistered individual apartments or homes, the owner can lease out the property to anyone regardless of their social or criminal status. This could lead to illegal or anti-social activities in the rented residence (although this is not always the case). In general, a registered society has set rules in place to maintain the safety and security of its residents. Such may not be the case with unregistered societies.

What are the registration options?

To register as a co-operative housing society, a minimum of 10 members (varies from state to state) are needed to apply for registration with a society name reservation, along with the name, address, share capital, entrance fee from each promoter member, which need to be deposited in the bank suggested by the Registrar. Some vital documents needed for registration are 7/12 extract of the land or property card, title deed, sanctioned layout/plans, Completion Certificate, OC, NOC from various authorities, Architect Certificate, list of members, Notarized Guarantee letter by the Chief Promoter, Promoter Members, Builders, affidavits, two copies of bye-laws, and other essential documents asked by the Registrar. Another option (for apartment complexes) is to form an Apartment Owners Association, which is not a co-operative society but gets the legal benefits under the law, can act as an arbitrator for disputes, collect maintenance fees and dues, and manage the amenities and common spaces. Documents needed are proposal letter to the Registrar signed by all committee members, name and address of the association, proceedings of the first general body meeting, memorandum of association, bye-laws and registration fees.

A registered society is a legal entity in itself

A registered co-operative housing society can approach a number of legal authorities to solve its disputes, whether they be cases against the builder’s malfeasance or neglect, a vendor’s fraudulent business transactions or inadequate water supply. Similarly, membership issues, non-maintenance or fraud within the managing committee can also be remedied by taking legal action against societies. The legal avenues are the Registrar, Co-operative Court, Municipal Corporation, Civil Court, Criminal Court, or the police (all depending on the nature of the complaint). In the case of unregistered societies or apartment association, one usually has to approach the civil court of the area and there can be a significant loss of time in the process and delayed results are usually the norm. Co-operative courts generally provide verdicts faster. The prudent and advantageous action would be to register your society at the earliest and receive a complete handover from the builder. Not registering your society can leave you vulnerable to disasters and unforeseeable circumstances.

POSTED ON July 12, 2019

Amalgamation of Housing Societies

Some housing societies who may be struggling with efficiency in management or financial losses may choose to amalgamate with another society, divide into smaller segments or transfer its shares and liabilities to another society. Such decisions are taken strategically to benefit the original society as well as the society it wishes to amalgamate with. But proper checks and balances are put in place by the government in such scenarios. Let’s delve deeper in the procedure of amalgamation. Cooperative housing societies are allowed to do the following:- 1. Amalgamate with another society 2. Transfer its assets and liabilities, in whole or in part, to any other society 3. Divide itself into two or more societies 4. Convert itself into another class of society (e.g convert from an individual society to a multi-cooperative or federal society). Societies co-operative acts, Muti-cooperative act and Society Registration Acts all have provisions and guidelines for amalgamation of housing societies. For the purpose of this article, we will use the terminology from two of the most well-defined state co-operative acts which are Maharashtra and Delhi.

Procedure for amalgamation:

1. File an application: The society is required to send an application to the Registrar with full details of the intention, whether it is a decision to amalgamate, transfer assets and liabilities, divide itself or to convert to another class of society. 2. Registrar approval: The Registrar gives permission to members, shareholders, creditors and any other person who may have an objection to such a decision and may be affected by it. They may ask for additional information or particulars from the cooperative society, and after a thorough examination, gives his approval. 3. Special General Meeting: The society has to convene a Special General Meeting by giving a 15-day notice to its members & creditors. The resolution to amalgamate can only be passed if there is a two-thirds majority vote by the members. 4. Resolution and statements: The resolution should contain a detailed purpose of why the society intends to amalgamate, transfer or divide along with proposed plan or scheme demonstrating how such a transformation is in the interest of the society. The proposed scheme for the transfer of liabilities and assets to another society should also be clearly laid out if such is the intention of the housing society and a statement is to be submitted with the application. If the plan consists of the transfer of liabilities or assets, the co-operative society is mandated to give written notice to all the members, creditors and any other person who are likely to be affected by such a decision. 5. Options for all parties involved: Creditors are given a chance to secure their dues from the society after the notice is put out. Members/shareholders have the opportunity to become part of a new society, or continue being part of the amalgamated society. At the same time, if the member/shareholder wishes to discontinue their involvement, they are allowed to receive payment for their shares and other dues. 6. Notice of amalgamation in Delhi: The notice shall also be published in at least one newspaper in English and Hindi and one in vernacular language in circulation in the National Capital Territory of Delhi and a copy thereof shall be exhibited on the notice board in the office of the co-operative society and the office of the Registrar. The State Government may decide against such a notice depending on the society’s financial capability and the extent of its liabilities and other pertinent factors. 7. One month waiting period: Within one month of the passing of the resolution, creditors and other people who may be affected by the amalgamation can raise objections and clear their dues. The society takes the necessary resolutions for each objection (if any raised). The amalgamation procedure cannot be completed if there are any unresolved disputes from members, creditors or other persons. If any of the parties involved fail to raise objections or demand their dues within this one month, it is automatically assumed that they have consented to the amalgamation. 8. Society’s Report: The society is required to submit a report to the registrar recounting the actions it has taken with regards to clearing dues and objections and request a decision for amalgamation, transfer or division, whichever the case may be. The new or amalgamated society has to be registered and the existing registration has to be cancelled. 9. Registration approval: After inspecting the society’s report, the Registrar if thoroughly satisfied with the proceedings, will register the amalgamated, divided or converted society and cancel the registration that was filed for the society previously.

Things to remember

1. In the case of determining the member’s share value during the entire process, the calculation will be determined on the financial position of the society based on the last audited balance sheet, but it will not exceed the actual amount the society had received from the member. 2. On the very same date that the amalgamated, divided or converted society gets registered, the old registration is considered cancelled. 3. Even if the society amalgamates, transfers its shares liabilities, divides or converts itself, it does not affect any legal proceedings that the society may have started against someone or if any such proceedings were started against the society by another party. The newly transformed society will still continue the same processes legally. 4. The registration itself is enough conveyance to vest the assets and liabilities of the original society. 5. Even when the society has not intention to amalgamate or divide, the Registrar has the power to cause amalgamation, division or reorganisation of societies if it considers that such an action is in the interest of the general public and the co-operative movement and that it will lead to better management of the society. However, the registrar sends a copy of the proposed order to each society in question. The Registrar also makes modifications based on the suggestions or objections received by the society within a period of two months. The members willing to opt out still receive their share amount and the creditors will receive their dues even if the Registrar decides for amalgamation, division or reorganisation.

POSTED ON July 10, 2019

What is RERA? How Builders and Homebuyers Can Benefit From RERA

In 2016, the government enacted The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, commonly known as RERA, that came to be implemented in May 2017 all over India. Its purpose is to encourage and develop the real estate sector while also protecting the interests of home buyers, bringing every activity of the buyer and the seller under one regulatory central and standardised legislation. RERA was established to do away with project delays, malpractice, irregularities in norms and increase transparency and accountability from builders and homebuyers both. Various states of India have been allowed to create their own regulatory practices in compliance with the Act. At the end of December 2018, around 35,000 projects were registered under RERA and the number is only growing. Maharashtra and Gujarat are considered the most RERA-compliant states and other states who have interim RERA are expected to follow suit. Let’s understand the highlights of the landmark act that has positioned the real estate sector on an upward trajectory, bringing in standardisation that never before existed in India.

Salient features of RERA

1. RERA is applicable and mandatory to all residential and commercial properties in all the states of India (excluding Jammu and Kashmir). All projects are required to be registered under RERA, whether they are in the launch or construction phase (provided the land is over 500 square metres or eight apartments). 2. Any changes in the design or plan of the property have to be implemented after the permission of the (two-thirds of the) allottees and the authorities. 3. The act lays down clear instructions about the carpet area (usable area within the walls). The buyer only pays for the carpet area and not the super built-up area. 4. 70% of the funds acquired from the buyers are required to be kept in a separate bank account and utilised for the development of the project. 5. The project completion date has to be clearly mentioned in the agreement and strict measures are implemented to have the project finished on time. 6. All project details have to be made available to buyers other than the sale deed, including financial statements, registration copy, project prospectus, design/plan of the flat, among others. 7. RERA websites publish lists of developers and their ongoing projects (as well as complete project repertoire), including certificates, project litigation, FSI details, plot bearings, certifications, etc.in order to give buyers an in-depth look at the developer’s credibility and their projects. 8. In case of any delay, both the parties (buyer and seller) will pay the same interest which is 2% above SBI’s Marginal Cost (of funds based) Lending rate. 9. Each state is mandated to form a real estate appellate tribunal that is responsible to resolve disputes between buyers and sellers within a time period of 120 days. 10. Builders are not allowed to demand more than 10% of the total cost of the property as an advance payment/booking amount before they sign the final sale agreement. 11. If there are any malfunctions or defects in the building, the residents have one year to bring it to the notice of the builder who then is responsible to fix the problems within 5 years of possession, free of cost. 12. The builder is not allowed to publish any advertisement related to the project unless he has registered the project with RERA (state or central RERA). Advertisements must mention the registration status and the details of the project are published on the RERA website as well. 13. To file any complaints under RERA, you can visit the ‘Complaint Registration’ section on their website. 

Documents needed for Registration under RERA

As mentioned earlier, each state has its own requirements for which the state government maintains RERA websites where you can find exact specifics. However, below is the commonly needed paperwork for project registration. 1. Authenticated copy of the PAN Card. 2. Photograph, contact details, address of the builder and partners, chairman, etc. 3. Builder’s Income Tax Returns of the last three years and balance sheet. 4. Legal title deed attested by an Advocate. 5. In cases where the builder is not the land owner, any agreements made between the owner and the builder are done with the owner’s consent letter. 6. Documents related to the project such as sanctioned plan/floor plans, proposed plan, parking area arrangements, carpet area, TDI/FSI details, proposed numbers of buildings/wings, aggregate area of the open common spaces. 7. Architecture and Design Standards, Type of Construction Technology, Earthquake Resistant Measures. 8. Name and number of contractors, architects, engineers, and any other professionals involved in the construction. 9. Details of the total duration of the project and completion date.

How does a builder register under RERA?

1. Fill an application for registration along with the required documents and registration fees. The fee amount is calculated on the basis of project type and square meters (detailed fee structure is available on RERA websites). The RERA Maharashtra project registration fee is Rs.10 per square meter or minimum of Rs. 50,000 only and maximum up to Rs.10,00,000 only. 2. After the application, you will receive a RERA registration number, which is to be displayed in every advertisement of projects. 3. The process of granting registration may take up to 30 days. 4. The project can receive extension in case of natural calamities or any other case if deemed reasonable by RERA (extended period is usually one year). 5. RERA holds the right to cancel the registration if the builder defaults, violates the laws, misrepresents facts, conducts unfair practices or falsely advertises services.

Penalties imposed by RERA

1. Non-registration penalty is 10% of the estimated cost of the project. Further non-compliance with respect to registration may lead up to imprisonment for three years with or without a fine. 2. False presentation of information is penalised at 5% of the total cost of the project. 3. Non-compliance or contravention of any RERA order is calculated on the basis of defaulted days and may add up to 5% of the cost of the project. 4. Not abiding to the decision of the appellate tribunal may lead to imprisonment of three years with or without a fine leading up to 5% of the total cost of the project.

What are the benefits of RERA for homebuyers?

1. Buyers will get what they pay for in terms of carpet area. Earlier they used to be conned by false promises of builders who used to advertise higher carpet area and then hide behind technical definitions. 2. All the project details and progress reports will be made available to the buyers on RERA websites, making them aware of every aspect of the construction. 3. There will be fewer projects being stalled, more projects will be completed on time. 4. The buying decisions will be faster. Dispute resolution will no longer be delayed for months or years, as the appellate tribunal will be responsible for a verdict in 120 days. 5. Projects will not run out of funds as the builders will not be allowed to move funds from one project to another and maintain transparency about the fund allocation. 6. Builders will be accountable for a botched job on the construction and will be held responsible to fix the problem for free. 7. The government has decided to start a common online platform for RERA authorities of all states so that buyers can exchange views, seek advice and discuss their problems. 8. Advertising and promotional materials will not contain any misleading information so the buyers will be well-informed about their prospective purchases. 9. In case of default of payment by the buyer, the interest rate to be paid by the buyer to the builder was high, whereas if the builder delayed the project, the interest paid by him to the buyer was less. Now the same interest rates are applicable to both parties.

Benefits of RERA for builders

1. The buyers are expected to occupy the residence within 2 months of Occupation Certificate. This is good news to builders as it reduces unoccupied properties. 2. Lenders will be more willing to provide flow of money to the builders due to renewed faith and transparency provided by RERA norms. 3. RERA mandates regular payments from the buyers, including registration fees, maintenance charges, taxes, installment payments, water/electricity charges etc. This is a relief to builders who often used to bear the brunt of defaulted payments quite often. 4. The real estate sector will be more organized as there will be fewer fraudulent and unreliable builders who made the burgeoning sector otherwise unorganized. Such spring cleaning will increase buyer trust in the builders and the credibility of all registered developers will see an increase. 5. There will be less incidents of insolvency, bankruptcy in developers as the 70% of the funds will be correctly engaged in the project and not moved around for other projects. In all fairness, RERA has only been enacted for two years so its progress and outcome are still to be measured in entirety. However, states that have shown compliance and quick implementation have already seen the initial fruits of accountability and stable growth. RERA not only benefits buyers massively, it also provides strict and necessary guidelines for builders and real estate developers to contribute positively to the economic growth of the country.

POSTED ON July 8, 2019

Rights and Duties of Tenants in Housing Societies

The modern urban sprawl has been the reason for the growth of tenant-landlord agreements exponentially. In many instances, the tenants are expected to follow a set of unfair rules and pay unnecessary charges not mandated by the law. In other cases, we have seen misuse and even abuse by the tenant of the landlord and society’s trusting instincts, causing nuisance, disturbing general peace, or carrying out illegal or anti-social activities. Putting aside such extreme cases, all societies, homeowners and tenants agree upon certain ground rules for all parties to follow during the tenancy period. Let’s take a look at the tenant’s rights and duties under a rental agreement. Below are the rights of a tenant ensured by the law: 1. A lease agreement: More often than not, a tenant enters into a written and legally binding agreement with the landlord, making him entitled to receive a duplicate copy of the agreement while the owner retains the original. 2. Safe and habitable residence: A tenant should be handed a residence/flat which is clean, secure and well-maintained. If the tenant carries out any repair or restoration during his tenancy, he is expected to be reimbursed by the owner. 3. Payment receipts: The tenant should get an acknowledgement or receipt for the deposit, rent or maintenance (if any) that he has paid. Most apartment owners do not charge the members for maintenance. 4. Privacy: A landlord cannot enter the rented premises as per his whims and fancy. He has to provide a 24-hour notice to the tenant and visit during reasonable hours. 5. Guests and visitors: Tenants have the right to invite guests, family, friends and colleagues over to their apartment. If a family member or some other person not mentioned in the agreement moves in or stays for a longer period, the tenant should inform the landlord if such a requirement was initially agreed upon by both parties. 6. Access to amenities: A tenant has complete access to the societies facilities such as parks, gym, swimming pool, common areas, etc., provided the guidelines for use are duly followed. 7. Lawful actions: The landlord is not allowed to disconnect water, gas or electricity services as a means of recovering pending rent or dues from the tenant. Also, they cannot put unlawful restrictions or rules on the tenants such as unnecessary charges under false pretexts, not allowing pets in the apartment, not allowing entry after certain hours, etc. 8. Parking rights: Ideally, the owner’s parking slot is given to the tenant to park his vehicle. If not, the tenant still has the right to park inside the society premises and may be charged a predetermined amount for the service. He should not be made to park on the streets and should receive a parking badge or sticker as well. 9. Right to service staff: A tenant should be allowed to utilise the services of the society’s service staff such as cleaners, liftmen, watchmen, plumber, electrician, carpenter, etc. They should also be allowed to hire domestic help. 10. Eviction notice: The landlord cannot evict the tenant before the tenancy duration in the lease agreement, unless the member has failed to pay rent, has sub-let the residence to someone else without permission, grossly violated society’s laws, terms of the agreement, conducted himself anti-socially, or if the owner himself needs to occupy the residence. If the owner wants the tenant to move out for a genuine and unavoidable reason on his part, he has to inform the member for at least one month in advance so that they can make the necessary arrangements. 11. Right to deposit: The landlord is required to return the security deposit paid by the tenant while the agreement was signed. The landlord holds back a certain amount for unpaid dues such as gas or light bills or deducts from the deposit the amount needed to repair serious damage or destruction that occurred during the tenancy (minor wear and tear not included), but this is to be done after discussing it in detail with the tenant. 12. Right to file a complaint: If the tenant faces any harassment from the owner and if the terms of the tenancy agreement are violated by the owner, the tenant has the right to file an FIR to the police or approach the Civil Court is more severe cases (after ensuring that the owner is not hiding behind any loophole in the agreement and is illegally violating the terms). Let’s take a look at the duties of a tenant in a housing society. 1. Pay dues on time: A tenant is required to pay his monthly rent, light and gas bill, parking charges, and any other charges agreed upon in a timely manner. 2. Maintain cleanliness: A tenant should take good care of the residence and the society premises, ensuring no damage is caused by him within the apartment/house. If he is responsible for any breakage, such as light fixtures, water heater, etc, he should get it repaired. If something stops functioning by itself or any part of the house is damaged without him having caused it, he should get it repaired and seek reimbursement from the owner. 3. Pay increased rent: At a pre-fixed rate of calculation, the monthly rent increases after the tenant completes one year and wishes to renew his stay. For e.g., in Maharashtra state, the rent increases by 10% of the original rent amount. It is the tenant’s duty to pay the increased rent. 4. Follow the rules: As a conscientious member, you must obtain a copy of the society’s bye-laws or at least familiarise yourself with the society’s membership rules/ code of conduct so as to be in compliance with what is considered acceptable and civilised behaviour in collective living. 5. Refrain from causing nuisance: A tenant should not cause inconvenience and create a nuisance to neighbours by behaving in a disrespectful way, throwing litter in society premises or strewing garbage outside the apartment, encroaching unentitled space, having big parties, blaring music, loud arguments, etc. In other words, no action of the tenant should warrant a complaint from the other residents. 6. Not to sublet: A tenant should not abandon the apartment and go missing for long periods (unless it is discussed and approved by the owner beforehand). He is not allowed to sublet the apartment to someone else illegally as most agreement clauses do not allow this. However, if it has been mutually agreed upon between the tenant and the owner (such cases occur rarely), written permission is needed by the owner. The role of a housing society: Ideally, the housing society has no say in the homeowner’s decision to sublet his residence as he sees fit. The society is not to intervene or discriminate on the basis of racial, religious, gender or marital status of the tenant. Homeowners, upon a prior understanding with the society, prefer renting out their residence to sound, stable and reliable tenants who are usually well-screened during the initial interview process.

POSTED ON July 3, 2019

All You Need to Know About Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting

The average Indian home consumes 350 litres of water every day. Plenty of this usage is reckless – and also expensive. In the summer, areas experiencing water shortage may end up spending up to Rs.2500 per month. Much of this can be optimised – with ease. This article will tell you, both, how to decrease your dependence on private suppliers, through rainwater harvesting, and give you several tips about conservation of water. So let’s begin:

What is Rainwater Harvesting?

Rainwater Harvesting, also referred to as RWH, is a simple method of collecting rainwater and deploying the same for further usage. This is an increasingly important water conservation method in apartments and gated complexes. It is popular because it can result in significant savings and is easy to implement. For example, in Panchsheel Park Colony in Delhi, a community of 1000 residents, pooled in Rs. 800 per flat in June 2004 to build a rainwater harvesting system. Today, they harvest more than 170 million litres of water annually – and this with Delhi’s meagre rainfall.

Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting

This is the best and most effective method of harvesting rainwater for apartments as it is less expensive and if implemented efficiently, helps in augmenting the groundwater level of the area. This is a system of catching rainwater where it falls. In this method, the roof becomes the catchment, and rainwater is collected from the roof of the building, which can either be stored in a tank or diverted to an artificial recharge system.

Components of Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting

The process involves transporting rainwater through pipes and drains, filtration and storage for reuse/recharge. Here are some common components involved in these stages: 1. Catchments: Surface which directly receives the rainfall and provides water to the system. It can be a paved area such as a building terrace or courtyard, or an unpaved area such as a lawn or an open ground. A roof made of reinforced cement concrete (RCC), galvanised iron or corrugated sheets can also be used. Vikas Complex Cooperating Housing Society in Thane (W), successfully collected 59,1260 litres of water from a Catchment area of about 296 square metres (sq. m). Whereas, the average annual rainfall in Thane is about 2350 milli metre (mm). 2. Channels: Water is collected around the edge of a sloping roof in channels and is carried to a storage tank. The size of the channel depends on the flow during heavy rain. It is advisable to make them 10 to 15% larger. They can either be made from plain galvanised iron (GI) sheet, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or even bamboo trunks. 3. Conduits: Pipelines or drains that transport rainwater from the catchment area to the harvesting system. Conduits can be of PVC or galvanised iron. 4. First-Flushing: A valve that ensures that runoff from the first spell of rain is flushed out and does not enter the system. This needs to be done since the first spell of rain carries a relatively larger amount of pollutants from the air and catchment surface. 5. Filter: Removes suspended pollutants from rainwater collected over roof. A filter unit is a chamber filled with filtering media such as fibre, coarse sand and gravel layers to remove debris and dirt from water before it enters the storage tank or recharge structure.

Types of Filters:

Charcoal water filter: A simple charcoal filter can be made in a drum or an earthen pot. The filter is made of gravel, sand and charcoal, all of which are easily available. – Sand filter: Sand filters have commonly available sand as filter media. Sand filters are easy and inexpensive to construct. These filters can be employed for treatment of water to effectively remove turbidity (suspended particles like silt and clay), colour and microorganisms. – Rainwater Purification Centre (RainPC): A system designed for the conversion of rainwater to drinking water. Coming in a small compact 26 kg unit, the RainPC offers an affordable solution. 6. Storage Facility: There are multiple options available based on the shape, size and material of construction. – Shape: Cylindrical, Rectangular and Square – Material: Reinforced cement concrete (RCC), ferrocement, masonry, plastic (polyethylene) or metal (galvanised iron) sheets – Position of the tank: Depending on space availability, these tanks could be constructed above ground, partly underground or fully underground. Some maintenance measures like cleaning and disinfection are required to ensure the quality of water stored in the container. 7. Recharge Structures: Rainwater may be charged into the groundwater aquifers, an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock, rock fractures or unconsolidated materials such as gravel, sand, or silt, through any suitable structures like dugwells, borewells, recharge trenches and recharge pits. – Recharge trenches and permeable pavements: These recharge structures promote the percolation of water through soil strata at shallower depth. – Recharge wells: These structures conduct water to greater depths from where it joins the groundwater. – Recharge pits: The excavated pit, 1.5m to 3m wide and 2m to 3m deep, is lined with a brick/stone wall with openings (weep-holes) at regular intervals. The top area of the pit can be covered with a perforated cover. Design procedure is the same as that of a settlement tank.

Advantages of implementing Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting:

1. Promotes water conservation and reduces water bills 2. Mitigates on-road flooding and soil erosion within your complex 3. The system is less expensive, easy to implement and requires less maintenance 4. Diminishes the usage of potable water for varied purposes 5. Reduces water consumption by as much as 40%

DIY Water Conservation Tips

Did you know we use about 27% of water for bathing and toilet use. Here are 10 simple DIY tips that come in handy and if practiced diligently, can help conserve water. 1. Don’t waste the waste:Utilise RO waste water for other household purposes.Reuse grey water and reroute the runoff from your clothes washer and use that water for things like flushing the toilet or washing your car 2. Fix faulty faucets: A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of 1 drip per second can waste more than 11,360 litres per year. That’s the amount of water needed to take more than 180 showers! 3. Keep tabs on the taps: Don’t let the faucet running while cleaning veggies. Turning off water while brushing teeth saves 9.5 litres a minute. 4. Install showerheads and aerators: Shower heads control the water flow rate, which helps in reducing the amount of water consumed. A low-flow shower can help you save 34,540 litres per year, given a 10-minute shower time per day. 5. Switch to a low-flush toilet: Install a cistern displacement device to reduce the volume of water used in each flush. 6. Install a water meter: Monitor water consumption to control usage. What’s more, it is also helpful in detecting leaks. 7. Broom the sidewalks: A single sidewalk wash consumes about 303 litres of water, use a broom instead! 8. Water plants during mornings: Watering your plants during the day increases water consumption due to evaporation. Save 95 litres each time you water your plants either early mornings or late evenings. 9. Don’t run half-filled washing machines: Avoid half cleaning rounds and allow your washing machine to be filled before you get them spinning. 10. Don’t run the hose while washing your car: About 230 litres of water is consumed per car wash, make each drop count.

POSTED ON July 1, 2019

10 Common Problems Faced in Cooperative Housing Societies and Their Solutions

Housing societies are not always the safe and trouble-free utopias we imagine them to be and do have their own share of woes and travesties, as does everything else in life. Some problems have a way of appearing, reappearing and recurring in the life of an average housing society resident. Loud neighbors, tyrant committee members, careless service staff, irresponsible builders… the list goes on. But for every problem, there is a failsafe solution, provided some foresight and a lot of proactiveness is applied. Find out more about the common housing conflicts below. 1. High Maintenance Charges: There are predefined components for which the member has to pay maintenance charges, such as water, service, common electricity, etc. However, in many cases, it has been observed that the managing committee bills members randomly and illegally for surplus charges under false pretexts, such as charges for keeping pets, using elevators for transporting new furniture, etc. Solution: While getting into an agreement with the developer, check the calculation of maintenance charges, i.e equal distribution, per sq feet calculation or hybrid charge. Also check your society’s model bye-laws to be aware of the components to be legally paid, and if you are being charged incorrectly, bring it to the notice of the managing committee immediately. In case if the MC refuses to cooperate, you have the right to file a complaint to the Registrar and finally to the District Collector. 2. Parking Woes: One slot is allowed per member to park their four-wheeler, unless specific arrangements are made by the society, for which it charges extra. A member is allowed to park either a commercial or a personal vehicle. When there is a shortage of slots, a draw is used to determine the parking arrangements. If the owner does not have a parking slot and rents out his residence, it is his responsibility to make available a parking spot for the tenant. Visitors are also legally allowed to park their vehicles inside the society, except the percentage allotted to guest parking has been reduced from 25% to 5% now. Solution: If you are facing parking problems, approach the managing committee with a written complaint to be granted your rights within the statutes. If no solution is found, approach the Registrar, Co-operative Court or Consumer Forum. 3. Corrupt Committee Members: It is no secret that corruption runs rampant where power is centralised. In the case of the managing committee of housing societies, certain dishonest members or office bearers embezzle funds for personal benefit and some committee members pay no heed to such malpractice. Incidents such as misappropriating society’s funds and showing falsified statements, charging members with unnecessary bills, writing off pending dues from certain members, embezzling funds from redevelopment loans, bribing officials for fraudulent expenses, etc. are commonly registered as complaints. In many cases, managing committee charges massive non-occupancy charges from unsuspecting residents even when the apartment is occupied by a close relation or is locked. Solution: As a proactive and vigilant member, you should be aware that you have the legal right to inspect any and all of the society’s financial books and statements. If your society denies this right, it is liable to pay Rs 25,000 in penalty. Attend the annual general meeting to take stock of the society’s financial transactions. Ensure that the Auditor who performs society’s annual audit is hired from government approved panel. Appoint an honest internal auditor from within the society. Finally, approach the Registrar or the court (as RTI action) to highlight unresolved cases of financial debauchery. 4. Unfair/irregular Elections: Dictatorial behaviour by the committee members is noticed in many Indian societies where the sitting Managing Committee refuses to conduct a fresh election (to be held every five years). Same members retain their position and misuse their authority to bully or manipulate members out of their rights. When they do conduct an election, certain votes are neglected and members favoured by MC are given preference for qualifying rounds. Certain chairpersons/secretaries elect the entire managing committee by themselves, disregarding member votes. Solution: A housing society operates on the laws of democracy, where the members have the right to contest in an election or nominate a candidate of their choice. One member has one vote. Election procedure is to be supervised by an unbiased govt authorities in larger societies. You should make a complaint to the managing committee, which should ideally respond to your objection in 15 days. If no remedy is found, you have the right to approach the local Registrar or the co-operative court. 5. Encroaching of space/ illegal construction: This is a common conflict that is often faced by the managing committee. Many members occupy common spaces in the vicinity of the apartment/home, turning it into a shed, garden or parking slot. Illegal apartment extensions are also built from within the residence, occupying extra dimensions than allowed by the society. This is a violation of the rights of the neighbors and flouting the rules of the society as a whole. Solution: Inform the violating member of the problem and educate them about the society’s rules after involving the managing committee who should ensure that the encroaching of space is immediately stopped. In case the builder or a member constructs an unauthorized structure within the premises of the society, the MC should notify the local municipal authority as a legal action against him. 6. Safety neglect: Some societies are careless about their security measures, due to which the residents become victims of theft, vandalism and occasionally graver crimes. At times, the security framework is lax or the security guards are missing/neglectful, resulting in the unnecessary nuisance to members by vendors and salesmen. Even in the case of the society installing CCTV systems, the equipment is not upgraded or repaired when it stops working. Additionally, in common areas such as the parking lot, staircase, swimming pool, community hall, garden, there are broken light bulbs, open manholes, structural damage, broken pipes, glass that often lead to accidents and injuries. Some buildings do not have up to date fire fighting equipment, emergency drill routines and are not earthquake resistant. Solution: The managing committee members who are in charge of hiring security guards should screen, vet them thoroughly or hire them from a recognised manpower agency and train them on how to perform their duties. They should also be regular in carrying out the necessary annual maintenance contracts with vendors for fire fighting equipment, lift maintenance, etc. Members should promptly notify the committee of broken or dysfunctional amenities that could cause serious inconvenience or injuries to the residents. As a homebuyer/builder ensure the building is in compliance with safety laws, certified by inspectors, engineers and local authorities. Instead of relying solely on manual security, it is highly recommended to install CCTV cameras and equipment and have it upgraded at regular periods. A structural audit is mandatory for buildings at regular intervals. 7. Builder not doing his due diligence: You may have come across cases of negligence or profiteering on behalf of the builder/developer such as selling of empty parking lots, renting of common spaces within society premises without authorization, not procuring Occupation Certificate, Completion Certificate, not making available building plans to the society, not executing conveyance and property card in the name of society. At times, they do not share the profit accrued from selling hoarding spaces or mobile tower space on the terrace, unfairly using the building FSI/TDR for other constructions. Solution: Before the builder handover, ensure every required document and certificate is obtained in due time. There are several authorities you could approach for such illegal actions. Based upon the type of violation, file a complaint with Urban Land Ceiling Department for Conveyance issues, approach the Consumer Court for service related defects, the Criminal Court for cheating or fraud, the civil/city court for an injunction against using FSI/TDR, the BMC to blacklist the builder. 8. Fraudulent/Incomplete Audits: Some societies appoint morally dishonest Auditors who turn a blind eye to the misappropriation of funds by the managing committee, taking a cut from the funds. Even if the Auditor is honest in reviewing the finance, thousands of societies in Mumbai and other cities do not submit the audited accounts to the authorities, resulting in de-registration and penalties. Mismanagement of financial statements and cash books results in ineffective audits. Bad bookkeeping on behalf the committee prevents the auditors as well as the residents from a clear and fair view of the society’s financial undertakings. Solution: Elect reliable and conscientious committee members who manage the books responsibly. Appoint a clean internal auditor to oversee the finances. Accept the services of a certified Auditor who is empaneled with the Registrar in order to carry out an efficient annual audit. 9. Nuisance caused by residents: This problem comes in many shapes, sizes and forms. Check any complaint board websites of almost any state in the country, you will find members complaining about unruly neighbours such as loud music at ungodly hours, blaring stereos in cars, littering society premises, throwing food scraps from the pantry, feeding birds in balconies, children and sometimes adults playing cricket and other sports extremely noisily after prescribed play hours in gardens, members getting in scuffles with watchmen and other staff, tenants or even homeowners behaving in unsavory and disrespectful ways, smoking and drinking in society premises, among others. The list is seemingly endless and even renewed with new complaints describing strange and uncivilised behavior by the residents. Solution: Silence is not the best approach. Confront politely the person causing inconvenience to you and voice your concerns. If the behaviour continues, highlight it to the Secretary of the society or file a written complaint. But be sure to follow up on your grievance. The society usually lays down a code of conduct for its residents or at least puts up the list of ‘dos and don’t dos’ on its notice board which usually suffices for those of us who are more self aware. Uncivilised behavior is largely accepted in India as citizens would rather mind their own business, be apathetic and tolerate distasteful behaviour instead of taking real action. There are cases where repeat offenders have been reprimanded, penalised and even expelled from the society on account of cruel and intolerable behavior. The final legal remedy is to approach the Police in case of irresolution of the problem. 10. Water shortage: There are a sizeable number of buildings that supply 24/7 water while in the case of others, the municipality provides water at fixed hours throughout the day. In such cases, the residents fix water tanks overhead to store water. However, only the specified size of water tank is approved to be fit as per the rules of the society so as to not hoard. When the buildings do not have overhead tanks and the water supply is governed by the society, it has been observed that the managing committee cuts off the water supply throughout the day or during busy hours such as mornings and evenings without giving prior notice to the member. When the supply is given, in some cases, it is not enough for a family to go about their routine. Other issues that have been highlighted include water leakage due to improper maintenance and supply of unhygienic water due to lack of water tank maintenance. Solution: Since societies are equipped with underground water storage tanks, if they refuse to provide adequate water or make unequal distribution, the member can approach the municipality or the co-operative court. The MC should be prompt to fix leaking water pipes and ensure clean water to its residents. No one party is always to be blamed entirely when any conflict occurs. After all, a housing society is a collaborative endeavor that requires participation from both sides. It is the duty of the members to elect the right representatives who would be willing to resolve problems effectively for the sake of the collective. The committee members, in turn, should perform their duties without expecting any material or intangible privileges. Peaceful dialogue should be the first and foremost choice of both parties involved. Approaching authorities is the final and inevitable option.

POSTED ON June 28, 2019

MyGate Journeys: Rashika Daaga

It was about two years ago when I crossed paths with the leadership at MyGate and was deeply influenced by the problem under discussion, and the solution being built at scale. While the idea was still being nurtured, the vision was clearly embedded in our minds… Simplifying Urban Living! I started out as an individual contributor within the operations team. Today, as I lead the Account Management Team and look back to the day I began my journey with MyGate, I have come to realise that my time at the company has been transformational. I can proudly claim that I help MyGate stay at the top of its game on a daily basis.

Consistent Innovation

None of this can be imagined without the right blend of customer-centric design and robust tech foundation. I have witnessed the solution evolve constantly. From a bare-bones application to a disruptive force simplifying life for over half a million homes in India, we have embraced innovation to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. Equally essential is the need to put the right structure in place that systematically pursues and champions innovation. Mission-specific teams, working towards measurable outcomes, and a culture that encourages experimentation to align to changing customer expectations, ensures that the company remains a pioneering force in its space. Even with an aggressive emphasis on sales and marketing, the focus on improving the product has never deviated.

Valuable Exposure

MyGate has helped me broaden my horizon of being valuable and strong by investing trust in my abilities. I have always had the freedom to voice my opinions and share feedback based on my first hand experience of interacting with customers. The synergy between my personal growth and the company is flawless… I have enriched my skills and crafted a compelling persona, which helps me emerge as a stronger and wiser individual. Being an integral cog in the wheel at MyGate, I can easily advocate that the company offers a plethora of opportunities to showcase how one can add value, both to the business and the community as a whole. I have received unconditional support, knowledge, wisdom, and time to deliver both as an individual contributor and now as a team lead.

Company Mindset

For any business to achieve success, a lot depends on the collective company psyche, as in how a company thinks, decides and acts. The reason I was able to identify and grab growth opportunities here is the predisposal to customer centricity, problem solving and execution excellence. The traits are infused in the company’s culture and therefore one can always see young energy and ideas brewing. Great ideas can flow in from anywhere. And, with the right support and structure, they can go onto becoming the cutting-edge solutions of the future. This is how MyGate has retained its innovative streak for over three years – and why I believe it will continue to do so for the long term. Looking for your next great role? Click here!

POSTED ON June 28, 2019

Model Bye-Laws of Co-operative Housing Societies

How does a Society finance itself? How does it screen potential members? Why does it bill its members maintenance charges? Where and when does the member voice his concerns or opinions? These questions must have popped in your head time and again as a member of a housing society. Look no further than the inconspicuous little book of ‘Model Bye-laws”. Model Bye-laws are rules formed by societies to self-regulate their activities and to control the actions of its members. These bye-laws are provided and approved by higher authorities (government bodies, legislative authorities). Model bye-laws of a co-operative housing society could vary from one state to another in their particulars, yet the basic framework and nomenclature remain the same. Let’s briefly explore distinctive categories for each component of the functioning of a society. These are broad categories that cover every aspect of operating a co-operative housing society, be it holding a meeting, issuing shares to members, collecting dues from them, conducting Elections, allotting parking spaces or putting out a circular on the notice board. 1. Name and address This section informs us about the procedure for naming, change in name, classification, address change procedure and exhibiting the Name Board of the society. 2. Interpretations The meaning of the nomenclature, i.e the exact definition of commonly used terms (common areas, sinking fund, active member) is given so as to legally distinguish common usage of words in the context of a housing co-operative. 3. Area of operation, objectives, affiliation To define the locality of the society within a municipality and to define the main objects of the society as well as declare it as Member of the Co-op Housing Federation of the District / Ward / Taluka, the District Central Co-operative Bank of the district. 4. Raising of funds and their utilisation These bye-laws lay down rules on modes of raising money such as issuing shares, taking loans, voluntary donations & deposits, etc. and explains how to issue shares to members and limit of liability for the society. The ways in which the funds are utilised are also described, such as reserve fund, repair and maintenance, emergency fund and training fund. 5. Rights of member This section describes the eligibility, conditions and procedure of obtaining membership in a society, distinguishes between active, non-active, associate and nominal members. The rights of members elaborated under these bye-laws include right to inspect records, get a copy of bye-laws, right to Occupation of Residence, conditions for and acceptance of Resignation by Members, procedure for Nomination by a Member and its revocation / revision, procedure and requisite documents for Transfer of Shares and interest from a member to another in the Capital/Property of the Society, Transfer of Shares and interest of the deceased Member, and rules on Exchange and Sub-letting of residences. 6. Responsibilities and liabilities of members This section details the duties of the member, including applying for permission to make additions and alterations in a flat, allowing examination of flats and report about repairs, not to cause inconvenience to other members. It also entails the grounds for expulsion from the society and its procedure, circumstances under which a person ceases to be a member and the follow-up action taken by the society, rules on holding multiple flats, liability limited of members to unpaid amount on shares. 7. Society charges Bye-laws describe the composition and break-up of the society charges, including Property Taxes, Water Charges, Common Electricity Charges, contribution to Repairs and Maintenance Fund, expenses on Repairs. Operation and Maintenance of the lifts contribution to the Sinking Fund, Service Charges, Car Parking Charges, Interest on the defaulted charges, Repayment of the Loan, Installment and Interest, Non-occupancy Charges, Insurance Charges, Lease/Rent, Non-agricultural Tax, Education and Training Fund, Election Fund, and any other charges. 8. Duties and powers of the society These are rules specific to the common seal and incorporation of the society as holding the power to acquire, hold and dispose of the property, to enter into contracts and other legal proceedings. It also pertains to having a charge on the shares and/or interest of a Member, policy for allotment of flats and cancellation of flats, handing over possession of flats, society’s duty to carry out Structural Audit, allotment of parking lots and its restrictions, marking of parking lots and their eligibility, along with payment of charges for parking of vehicles. 9. General Meetings This section gives detailed and specific rules on how to conduct society meetings, including general, annual and special body meetings. Rules regarding the agenda of the first general meeting, the duties of provisional committee and its handover to newly elected committee, the functions of the annual general body meeting, rules for special general body meeting, period of notice and quorum of a general body meeting, voting rights of members, recording of the minutes of meeting, holding of the adjourned General Body Meeting, among others are explicitly stated. 10. Management of regular affairs Rules under this category include opening up of bank account for operations, strength (in numbers) of the Managing Committee, guidelines for Election, First Meeting of new committee, duration of holding office, conditions for cessation of membership of the Committee, and Resignation of Committee Member/Office bearer. There are detailed lists of all the required functions of the Managing Committee, Chairman and Secretary of the society. 11. Book-keeping Detailed lists of maintaining books of accounts, records and registers are specified, including but not limited to cash books, ledgers, Sinking Fund, Investment, Nomination, Loan Registers, Minutes Books, Applications for membership, resignations, correspondences received from within the society or from external agencies related to property tax, conveyance, electricity, vouchers and counterfoils of share certificates and issued cheques, periodical statement of accounts, audit memos, election papers, service staff payment records. 12. Profit Distribution Rules on how to distribute funds (after paying interest on loans/deposits and after making such other deductions) are prescribed clearly in bye-laws. The allocation includes percentage of amount to be deposited in the Reserve Fund, in dividend of shares to shareholders, compensation paid to office-bearers, and towards Common Welfare Fund. 13. Writing off dues This section prescribes the conditions under which the Society is allowed to write off its irrecoverable charges due from the members, the expenses incurred on recovery and the accumulated losses. 14. Accounts Audit The basic procedure for conducting an annual financial audit of the society is described in detail, including the appointment of a registered Auditor/CA, the timeframe to conduct the audit and the steps for completing an Audit Rectification Report before Annual General Meeting. 15. Conveyance, redevelopment and repair/maintenance This section gives details of getting the deed conveyance under society’s name through an advocate and proceeds to list rules on renovation and repair. Member’s contributions towards repair are stated, along with the procedure of inviting tenders from architects/ developers, and a step-by-step guide to the entire redevelopment process is given. Guidelines on emergency planning schemes, disaster management and response machinery are prescribed as well. 16. Miscellaneous matters Minor yet important rules regarding day-to-day operational activities are mentioned in the bye-laws. These include sending and displaying notices on general meetings and their resolutions, how to fix the Notice Board and what to display on it, penalty amounts for member breaches against the society, regulating the services, amenities as per members’ convenience, fixing timings and rules for use of common areas such as parks, staircases, etc, making available spaces for members to install solar energy electrical systems, making copies of the documents required by the members and the charge per page. 17. Redressal of member complaints Based on the complaint type, the bye-laws give a list of relevant authorities to approach. They describe the types of complaints handled at the Society’s General Body Meeting. Other than that a variety of complaints are handled by the Registrar, Co-operative Court, Civil Court, Municipal Corporation/Local Authority, Police or the District/State Federation, depending on the nature of the grievance.

Why should you know about the model bye-laws?

The answer to any question you have about the functioning of your society can be found in the model bye-laws. They may seem verbose or cumbersome, but they should be on your ‘essential reading list’ as they are your ‘set in stone’ legal chaperones that cannot be refuted by any society under any circumstances. As part of a society, you’d be remiss if you are not aware of your basic rights and duties, your society’s foundational policies, its management and the guidelines that dictate its decisions. A lot of homeowners harbour an approach of ‘we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it’ with respect to the rules of a society, thinking all is accomplished once they have occupied their residence inside it. Be that as it may, to avoid being misinformed or manipulated by dishonest committee members, to stop the violation of your rights, or simply to be aware of the workings of the community you’re part of, familiarising yourself with model bye-laws is necessary. Model bye-laws are easily available online to peruse in your own time. Otherwise, as a member you have the right to ask for a copy from your society.

POSTED ON June 27, 2019

“Our residents were extremely enthusiastic the moment they heard we were installing MyGate!”

Rajanee Balaram has been a resident of TATA Housing Rasina Residency in New Delhi for the past three years, and also the Vice President of its 8-member Management Committee. We spoke to Rajanee to get insight into the everyday challenges as a member of the committee and how MyGate is helping her keep these challenges at bay.

What made Rasina Residency feel the need for a solution like MyGate?

After the committee was formed, within the first few weeks we noticed there were a lot of gaps in how people were let into the society. People walk in and out randomly and it was very difficult to keep a tab on the overall activity. And, of course, the society communications happened in silos. There was a Whatsapp group, and there was a Google group. But again, everyone was not on the Whatsapp group so there was a separate Telegram group as well. Thus, it was all mixed up. Complaint Management was another pressing challenge. Residents would raise complaints, and we, as a committee, would maintain excel spreadsheets. The information was manually imported as there was no automated workflow. We could barely make sense out of the data to derive any sort of analysis. Thus, we knew we wanted to introduce a society management app and decided to outline our options after a bit of research. That’s how we shortlisted about 3 to 4 companies and spoke to them over two weekends. After thorough consideration, we opted for MyGate.

What was your residents’ response to MyGate’s installation?

The residents were extremely enthusiastic, quite literally, as we told them we are using MyGate. They immediately downloaded the app. I already started getting messages from people saying that they have downloaded the app, now what? This was before I’d even got the dashboard access. We also spoke to the residents to inform them why we chose MyGate – because of the simple interface and for the unified solution that it is critical for visitor and society management. We wrapped up very, very quickly and today, nearly 90% of the residents are onboarded.

How did your guards react to this new way of enhancing security in your gated community?

Our guards were quite receptive of the idea and picked up really well. We never felt any reluctance from their end. Initially, there were a couple of areas where they were doing the wrong thing or they were not realising the importance of doing something right. However, they kept learning every day and we have now managed to eliminate all of the initial hiccups. Right now, I think we are quite tight in terms of managing visitor entries. One of the other things that is really good about MyGate is, the message to the guard. I keep telling residents that if you have any issues, for example, cab entries, just text back to the guard. That way, we can just download the report. It saves a lot of time and effort.

Could you highlight a few features that have helped you simplify your daily responsibilities?

Actually a bunch of them. To begin with, I think the management of daily help who come in and go out has become so much better. We know that everybody who is coming in is registered and verified. In terms of complaint management, it’s very simple to raise a complaint as it sits in the correct category. We are not required to choose a category for each complaint. And I think in terms of notifications, it is a breeze. Communicating with the residents has become so easy. There was this time when our lift got stuck and the technician had been called. The maintenance went on for four hours, so a message went out to all the residents and there was not one complaint on the residents’ group because they were all informed.

POSTED ON June 27, 2019

All You Need To Know About Co-Operative Housing Societies in India

If you’re planning to be a homeowner, a residence in a housing co-operative would have been recommended a good deal. The proliferation of housing co-operatives and related legal framework across India is a mammoth subject of study. To better understand the basic concept and the fabric of housing co-operatives, this article is a good place to start. Essentially, a co-operative housing society is a membership-based legal entity made of one or more residential buildings. You become a member by buying shares in the housing co-operative. In return, as a member, you get the right to occupy a housing unit in the society, be it an apartment or a house. A commonly accepted definition states that in a housing co-operative, the members “pursue the same cause of meeting the common need of housing or its improvement based on mutual assistance.” To elaborate, it is a democratically governed enterprise that entails voluntary management, shared expenses and community living. To borrow from Alexander Dumas’ The Three Musketeers – One for all, and all for one – is the motto of a co-operative.

The origin of housing co-operatives

In India, the idea was introduced by the British who founded the first Co-operative Societies Act in 1904 but only applied to credit societies for farmers. The first co-operative housing society was established in 1909 in Bangalore called The Bangalore Building Co-operative Society, followed by the Bombay Co-operative Housing Association in 1913, which also established the first ever model bye-laws. The Central government formed the Co-operative Societies Act in 1912 to lay down constitutional mandates for co-operatives. The post-independence era saw a slow but steady growth of housing societies aided by five-year plans. In 1969, the National Co-operative Housing Federation was formed as a common forum to aid housing societies to get funds and general insurance, conduct research and to assist State Level Co-operative Housing Federations. Due to rapid urbanisation and government intervention, housing societies have received the benefit of multiple state and central level schemes, which provide loans and land development assistant, in addition to amendments in co-operative housing laws that are more friendly to small to medium housing societies.

Types of housing co-operatives (categorised on type of ownership):

There are two levels of housing societies; (1) primary housing societies at the individual level, and (2) Apex Co-operative Housing Finance (ACHFS) at the state level. According to a housing co-operative profile dissertation on Shodhganga, these ACHFS consist of around 92,000 housing co-operatives all over the country out of which, about 31,000 housing co-operatives are affiliated to State level ACHFS for getting financial aid. The rest of the co-operatives are those that get finances from other sources and those which have repaid their loans fully. (1) Ownership Housing Societies: The society holds the land on lease or freehold basis by societies, and members own the houses. (2) Co-Partnership Housing Societies: These housing societies hold both land and building, either on leasehold or freehold basis and allot flats to their members. (3) House Mortgage Societies: Such societies lend money to their members for construction of houses. The members have to build a house on their own. (4) House Construction or House Building Societies: The society provides the money to the member for building the houses and live in them. The money spent is recovered as a loan.

What are the characteristics of a housing society?

Open to all: Regardless of your gender, caste, social status, political or religious beliefs, you are welcome to join a co-operative housing society. Voluntary organizations: Housing societies are voluntary in their functioning, based on the idea of self-help and self-reliance. Democratic Ownership: Co-operatives are by the people, for the people, of the people. Office bearers/ representatives are chosen through a fair process of election. Self-regulation: Co-operative housing societies are operated and governed by members, thus are truly autonomous and independent in all aspects. Training and information: Co-operatives train and educate members with respect to management, legal compliance, and benefits of a communal living so that they can perform their parts effectively. Mutual help: By the means of various local, national and international structures and paradigms, co-operatives enable members follow best practices and help them create better living conditions. Concern for members: Welfare, convenience and prosperity of every member is the priority of a co-operative without self-interest and power plays within its functioning. Financial contribution: Each member contributes equally towards common properties and maintenance. Limited liability:Expenses are shared equally in maintenance and to the extent of contribution made by each member Legal entity: A registered co-operative is a legal entity subject to local, national laws

What is the procedure to become a member in a housing society?

Once you decide which co-operative housing society you wish to be a part of, you need to apply for a membership in the prescribed form and fulfill the following terms: (i) pay the full price of the number of shares needed for admittance and the entrance fee. (iii) declare information with respect to any other property/home you or your family own anywhere in the area of the society’s operation. (iv) present a guarantee that the flat/home you are investing in will be used for the purpose for which it is being purchased and for no other reason. (v) declare all your sources of income/your dependence on others as a source of income. (vi) a certified copy of the stamped agreement you’ve entered into with the Promoter (Builder) or transferor. (viii) any such other declarations required under any bye-laws of the society.

Government policies and legislation

As such, each state has its own version of model bye-laws which you are required to follow as a member of a co-operative housing society. Other than that, below listed are some legislations that you could read up on. 1. Co-operative Societies Act (1912, 1950) for national level legislation and policies 2. The Multi-state Co-operative Act (2002) for the National Federation and Multi-State Co-operative Societies 3. National Building Code (including compliance to make buildings earthquake resistant) 4. Societies Registration Acts which differs from state to state Each co-operative society falls under the purview of the Registrar of Co-operative Societies which is appointed by the state government.

What are the advantages of living in a co-operative housing society?

1. Housing societies are affordable since the cost per member goes down considerably in terms of all services and amenities. 2. It is not a public enterprise nor is it a profit seeking initiative. The very motive of a housing society is to provide a fair financial deal to its members, eliminating any exploitation or centralised financial control. 3. Housing societies are safe and secure environment to live in since every member is screened and vetted before allowing membership. Criminal elements are not entertained. Such is not the case in other types of residential areas. 4. Living in a housing society is an asset when it comes to tax deductions. Since you are considered a homeowner, you can deduct your portion of real estate/mortgage tax paid by the society. 5. Members have a say from the inception to the redevelopment stages of the society, in terms of design and planning. Maintenance and overhead charges are kept at minimal and divided equally among all members. 6. Outside intervention (such as a landlord) is eliminated. As a homeowner, you are secure and get to enjoy the benefits of residency for as long as you wish. Even after you vacate the premises, your post occupancy benefits remain intact. 7. You are a part of a bigger, more diverse community that encourages brotherhood, camaraderie and social acceptance. 8. You can avail better management, amenities and well-maintained facilities in a joint venture such as a co-operative. Since the members are prompt to act, take care of the premises with a feeling of ownership and allow voicing of opinion for each member, everyone’s needs are duly met. 9. Co-operative societies are stable and reliable. Members may come and go, but since the society has its own legal existence and the means to sustain itself, it is a long-term arrangement, ideal for investment as well as residence.

POSTED ON June 25, 2019

Ideathon 2019: The Tech-Tale Unfolded

Innovation is the lifeblood of MyGate and what better way to spur collective innovation among our people than an Ideathon. It’s been two days since the event wrapped up and we thought it’s about time we recap the competition and share our experience.

Kickstarting the MyGate Ideathon Series

This being our first Ideathon, we weren’t sure of what to expect at the outset. However, we surely did know that we want our people to get their creative juices flowing and channelise them in a constructive and fun way. Well, isn’t that the most fulfilling incentive of Ideathons? As per a recent study, 76.3% developers participate in Ideathons & Hackathons because they enjoy the experience, while 66.1% developers seek improved programming ability. Only 18.9% participants aim at winning prizes or cash rewards. Surprising… isn’t it? Moving on… right after the theme of the event was announced, making MyGate bigger and better, the atmosphere was bubbling with excitement. In a matter of a few days, we had entries flowing in from 40 teams across 10 cities. This was slightly over 200 participants. We weren’t expecting such a staggering response. After a round of careful consideration, 15 teams were shortlisted for the final battle. Once the finalists were broadcasted, the battle began right at that moment.

Eat, sleep, code, repeat…

On the day of the final event, the participants checked in at the registration desk and head over to the commencement ceremony. As soon as the ceremony concluded, participants scattered and joined fellow colleagues to kick off their 24hrs of rendezvous. The participants were living by the mantra.., eat, sleep, code, repeat, while the clock continued to tick. As they collectively tread into the darker hours of the night, the coffee machine was being put to its best use. Sip after sip… cup after cup… almost like a coffee marathon! Among the anxiety and chaos, one member of the group was rewriting the video function while the other was having a complete change of heart.

The Judgement Day

Just over an hour until show & tell time, the ambience was paradoxical where stress and excitement co-existed. Amidst the mental contradiction, there was Team Chronos who was hustling with their laptops, perhaps codes, to get a basic functional prototype right. With a vision to win the race against time, they were aiming at making MyGate support super fast, with round-the-clock availability. The team successfully brought the judges into their fold and bagged the winners trophy. It wouldn’t be wrong to say, they nearly did beat time leveraging the power of codes and technology. MyGate Medico and Mygate Express were other deserving ideas, among the rest, that caught the judges’ attention. MyGate Medico aims at creating a healthier community by providing quick, in-app emergency medical assistance. The approach is to add an SOS feature in the user app to trigger an alert to all medical professionals on the app during an emergency event. MyGate Express is dedicated to providing seamless entries for invited and uninvited guests without having to block the gate for manual entries. The idea is to drastically reduce the waiting time at the gate, from 2-3 minutes to less than 10 seconds. This problem scales up for corporate scenarios where vendors, employees, security personnel check in at the same time and verification needs to be done if the entry is valid. Therefore, the solution results in enhanced security without any waiting queues.

Fostering Innovation. Inspiring Change.

In its introductory edition this year, MyGate Ideathon witnessed palpable energy, overwhelming enthusiasm and a variety of ideas across the spectrum. As much as the code-combat was thrilling, we discovered that ideathons are so much more than a competition. They are an inclusive, collaborative space for brainstorming and building breakthrough prototypes that can change people’s lives for good. If your idea didn’t work out, don’t sweat it. We’ll be back next year with a fresh theme to promote innovation and encourage the sense of generating value. Stay tuned!

POSTED ON June 25, 2019

Accounts Audit of a Co-operative Housing Society

The Co-operative Housing society is no doubt an autonomous and self-reliant endeavor. However, once every year, it is subject to the scrutiny of an outside agency to have its financial statements audited. For this purpose, it hires the services of financial experts in accordance with government laws. Annual account audit of every co-operative housing society is mandated by the Constitution of India. The model bye-laws state that it is the responsibility of the Managing Committee to do an Accounts Audit within a period of six months from the closure of the financial year and before the Notice of Annual General Body Meeting.

What is the procedure to conduct an Audits Account?

The first step is to appoint a Statutory Auditor from the panel of Auditors approved by the State Government or an experienced Chartered Accountant who holds a Certificate in Cooperative Audit issued by a recognized authority. However, the chosen Auditor is not allowed to be retained for more than two consecutive years. The selection of the Auditor is to be done by the Managing Committee at a General Body Meeting. At the same time, a society may select an Internal Auditor from within the society/committee (if they find it necessary). The Auditor has to be financially compensated by the society, thus his fees have to be paid in accordance with the statutory scale of compensation decided by the Registrar with respect to the type of society. The Secretary of the society is required to furnish all the necessary documents included but not limited to, ledgers, cashbooks, register of members, a record of shares/debentures, minutes book of the society’s meetings, receipts and payments of income and expenditure, financial statements, profit-loss balance sheets, and any other documents needed by the internal as well as Statutory Auditor. The Auditors checks for: – Irregularities, misstatements in the accounts of the society – Specifics of any anomalies, misappropriation of funds, embezzlement, or fraud found in the – account statements of the society. The Auditor is also responsible for: – Studying the financial transactions such as loan, investment, borrowings, lending of the funds by the society and examine the interest paid and received along with the related agreements – Physically inspecting the assets of the society – Ensuring the society’s financial dealings are in accordance with the Co-operative Society Act The Auditor takes stock of the amount defected, investigates how anomalies were caused and prescribes ways to fix the problem. He also highlights the impact of account irregularities (if any) and their impact on the overall financial statement. The audit is presented to the society and forwarded to the Registrar, who then submits it to the State Government every year.

What happens after the Accounts Audit is completed?

After receiving the Audit Reports from the internal and external auditors, the Secretary is required to prepare draft audit rectification reports which include comments, objections, suggestions, corrections, clarifications on the Accounts Audit report and present the rectification report to the Managing Committee for approval in the next general body meeting. The audit rectification has to be completed within three months from the date the Accounts Audit was handed over. The same audit rectification report is submitted to the Registrar and to the members of the society at the Annual General Body Meeting. If the Managing Committee of the society fails to submit the audit rectification report to the Registrar, it is considered a constitutional offence and is subject to punitive measures. The Registrar maintains a detailed list of all registered co-operative housing societies district-wise and has a record of all societies that have not conducted their Accounts Audit. The Registrar is also responsible for coordinating between the Auditor and the societies to ensure the entire procedure is finished on time.

Why should you conduct an Accounts Audit with due diligence?

As a responsible member of the Managing Committee, you are required to maintain immaculate financial accounts of the society’s income and expenses. The Secretary is responsible for keeping a record of all receipts, bills and expense accounts for the entire year and store them in a secure place for the Accounts Audit. If any malfeasance, deliberate or unintentional, is found by the Auditor, it affects the financial framework of the entire society and could cause a serious impact on the members’ financial well-being. Not getting your Accounts Audit done efficiently as per the mandated procedure makes your society non-compliant in the eyes of the government, leading to further action, which could be easily avoided with a timely Accounts Audit. To aid residents of the co-operative society, who are in most cases laymen coming together to create community living and may not be experts in finance and accounting laws, the government has laid down above mentioned directives which are necessary for every society to follow earnestly.

POSTED ON June 25, 2019

Non-occupancy Charges in Co-operative Housing Societies

It is a common practice for homeowners to invest in a residence and sub-let it to tenants. It is a good way to come into an additional source of income but brings with it the condition of paying your dues to the housing society. On the bright side, the non-occupancy charge is a relatively smaller amount, calculated and added on your maintenance bill. All you need to know is if you are liable to pay the charge, and if so, how much. Your housing society collects non-occupancy charges from you when your residence is occupied by someone other than you or a close family member. In other words, it is an amount you pay to your society when you rent or lease your residence to a tenant.

Under what conditions are non-occupation charges levied by the society?

A non-occupancy charge is NOT applicable if:- – Your apartment is occupied by your family members, including mother, father, husband, wife, son, daughter, sister, brother, grandchild/ren, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, or any other near relations – You, as a member of society, reside in it – The apartment is vacant/locked/occupied by no one When you live in your own apartment/home, you are liable to pay maintenance charges to the society. If you decide to move and leave the apartment locked with no one occupying it, you are still required to pay the maintenance charge without any concessions but a non-occupancy charge is not levied on you. In case if the residence is neither self-occupied or occupied by a family member, and if the member stands to make a commercial profit out of the property, non-occupancy charges have to be paid in compliance with the government mandate. It is the society’s way to claim some share in the financial benefit from your property while it is being rented to a non-family member. In such scenarios, the society needs to be given a copy of the lease/license agreement along with other required forms. The non-occupancy charges are added to your maintenance bill. You have the right to select any type of tenant (provided they are not destructive or criminally inclined) and your tenants have the right to avail all the services and amenities of the society as you yourself would.

How is the non-occupancy charge calculated?

In the past, the non-occupancy charges were fixed at a one-time payment of service charges. According to government directives followed currently, non-occupancy charges should not exceed 10% of the service charges billed to the member. The service charges are part of the total maintenance bill and include housekeeping fees, applicable fees paid to committee members, common electricity charges, security charges, garden maintenance, and society’s outgoing charges. Property tax, water charges, repair and maintenance expenses are not included as part of the service charge. Let’s understand this with an example. If the total maintenance bill of your society is Rs 3000, out of which if Rs 2000 is to be considered as service charges, you’d have to pay 10% of Rs 2000 (Rs 200) as non-occupancy charges. This directive is applicable to all residential societies and has received approval from the Supreme Court as well. The decision came about after it was highlighted that due to lack of clarity in the way non-occupancy charges were to be calculated, several housing societies’ managing committees were levying unnecessary charges on unsuspecting members at higher rates and profiting personally from such exploitation.

Why should you know about non-occupancy charges?

If you’re part of the managing committee, you’d be responsible for informing the member about non-occupancy charges, explaining how the amount was arrived at, and collecting it as part of monthly maintenance. It is vital that you first understand the mandated action on your behalf. Most members, in general, are unaware of how the non-occupancy charges are calculated or if they apply at all. If they sub-let their apartment and are levied with non-occupancy charges without prior knowledge, they might become hostile or grudgeful. At the same time, members are sometimes asked to pay unfair amounts of money in the form of non-occupancy charges by dishonest office bearers. Several consumer complaints have been registered against managing committees charing non-occupancy wrongly (even when a member hands over their residence to a relative), an action that is illegal and fraudulent. In such cases, members should immediately register a complaint with the Registrar of the said locality and get the necessary help from the authority if no corrective measure is taken by the society. As an active and alert member, you must do your due diligence first so that you can help not only yourself but others as well. Understanding what you owe and what you most certainly don’t owe to your housing society is the first step towards practical wisdom and citizen awareness.

POSTED ON June 25, 2019

Types of Co-operative Societies in India

Co-operative societies or Co-ops are a worldwide phenomenon with various definitions and diverse structures. Essentially, they are an association of users or firms or households in pursuit of economic, social or cultural objectives, applying to themselves the rules of joint ownership and democracy, aiming to serve its members and the community as a whole. They are a voluntary association that replace capitalism with co-operation, listen to their members’ needs, are non-discriminatory, arrive at decisions through discussions and follow the ideals of self-help and mutual help. Co-operatives exist in sectors such as retail, banking, housing, marketing, agriculture, manufacturing, purchasing, employment, among others. Some of the most renowned co-operatives in India are Amul, Shree Mahila Gruha Udyog (Lijjat Papad), KRIBHCO, and Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO – which is also one of the largest co-operatives in the world).

What are the types of co-operatives in India?

Let’s explore the six major types of co-operatives that exist in India. 1. Consumer Cooperative Society These societies are primarily for consumers who wish to buy household goods at lower prices. The society buys goods or products in bulk amounts directly from the producer on wholesale rates and sells them to the members, thus eliminating the need for a middleman. The purchased goods are sold to members and non-members in cash. Capital is raised by issuing low denominational shares to the members who also get dividends on the shares. Consumer co-operatives do not use advertising but rely on word-of-mouth. They ensure a regular supply of goods at reasonable rates. They set up stores or outlets to sell goods and avail huge trade discounts from producers. Some of the best examples of a consumer co-operative society are Super Bazar and Apna Bazar. 2. Producer Cooperative Society Also known as industrial co-operatives, these types of societies look out for the small-scale producers in a cut-throat market scenario. Production and distribution are handled from within the co-operative. These producers could be farmers, ayurvedic herbal medicine producers, organic produce sellers, handicraft or handloom producers, artisans, etc. Raw materials, ingredients, tools, processing units, etc. needed for the manufacturing or producing the goods are obtained by the members directly, provided to the producers and the final output is distributed to the buyers/non-members without a middle link. Producers pool in their resources, increase production volumes and minimise risk in the face of the competitive capitalistic markets. Best examples are dairy, fish farmers, weavers and artisans and tribal co-operatives. 3. Co-operative Credit Societies These are urban and rural financial societies that provide loans to members at low rates of interest, protecting the members from massive debts to traditional moneylending agencies. They serve a basic but highly personalised banking role in a sense. They have deposit schemes in forms of saving accounts, FD, RD, pension schemes, etc. The money procured is then given on loans to members as personal loans, agricultural loans, housing or vehicle loan, etc. These societies are regularly aided by state and national government subsidies and funding. Some examples are Teachers Co-op Credit society, State Electric Board Employee Co-op Credit Society. 4. Marketing Cooperative Society Mostly for the benefit of farmers, these societies function to market the produce profitably at the best possible prices, increase the bargaining strength of the farmers and protect them from the trials of individual selling and market exploitation. The profits are distributed on the basis of the contribution of produce made. They also educate the farmers on market prices, stabilise supply against demand, help them get loans, and help with grading, pooling, processing and procurement of produce and provide safe storage and reliable transportation facilities. Some good examples are Milk Co-operatives in Gujarat, Maha Grape, Cotton Marketing Co-ops. 5. Housing Cooperative Society Housing co-ops are a type of society that provides affordable housing to the middle and low-income groups. One becomes a member by purchasing shares in the co-operative. Instead of owning the real estate, the members own a share in the entire corporation, which in turn gives them a house to reside in. Such societies are commonly found in urban and semi-urban cities. They construct the residences or flats and provide them to the members to live in and collect the money in instalments. In other cases, they provide the land to the members who themselves construct their own residences. 6. Co-operative Farming Societies The financially challenged farmer may not be able to maximise his agricultural output individually and earn optimum profits. Farming co-ops are a way for farmers to retain the right to their land, yet pool together and consolidate land, livestock and equipment while earning a share in the total output as per the contribution made. In better farming co-ops, members co-operate for pre-sowing, seeds, fertilisers and equipment, and joint selling, but cultivate the land separately. In joint farming, they pool in the land as well. Co-op tenant farming is the type in which the society leases the land to the farmers and collects the rent. In collective farming co-ops, farmers are members for life and cannot remove their land but can transfer the land rights to another.

Why do co-operative societies matter?

Every Indian national should acknowledge the worth and significance of co-operative societies since they are an important contributor to economic equality and welfare. Even though they are not the predominant public or private financial organizations, a flourishing network of co-operative societies improves the standard of living of the weaker and middle-income sectors of the society as agents of change and reformation. They provide an economic model with a higher level of entrepreneurial or social sustainability and often work as pressure groups to voice the views of its members in a larger market. Being a part of a co-op improves your creditworthiness as a producer as well as a consumer. They are easy to join, ensure equitable distribution of profits, prioritise welfare over individual profits, are stable in their functioning and output, and receive a substantial amount of government support. The spirit of co-operation and unity in chasing common interests is the driving force behind co-ops. In a growing democracy, they are the symbol of meritorious collectivism.

POSTED ON June 18, 2019

How Communities Can Maximise the Convenience of MyGate

MyGate is designed to enhance security and improve community management through technology. When used to its maximum potential, residents experience seamless urban living, and the work of security personnel, facility managers and daily staff is made easier. MyGate cannot, however, do this on its own. It needs contributions from each stakeholder. We have put together a few best practices, based on our learnings from the thousands of communities that use our product extensively. Let’s take a quick look…

Best Practices at MyGate Communities

General Guidelines:

1. Empower Your Guards Your security guards are an important cog in the MyGate wheel. If they are going to use the app to approve or deny entry to visitors, they need to know that they have the backing of the managing committee. 3. Encourage Usage MyGate does conduct training sessions for residents and provides access to ample instructional material, but it is important for the committee to encourage adoption and usage of the app during the initial weeks. 3. Register All Staff All daily service providers should be registered on MyGate along with their photographs. This is a one-time procedure that will enable all residents to a) receive notifications when their staff enter and exit the community, and b) find top-rated help, as and when needed. 4. Promote Security As Shared Responsibility Advance the idea that security is the responsibility of every resident in the community. If every resident ensures that their visitors are approved via the app, security for the entire community will be elevated. Simultaneously, they (and their visitors) will be able to enjoy the convenience of seamless entries.

Guidelines for App Features:

5. Use The Gatepass Feature Giveaways to household help should be pre-notified on the MyGate app using the ‘Gatepass’ feature. This will keep them from awkward questions from the security guard in case you’ve given them something to take home. 6. Opt For SmartEye The Management Committee should opt for the ‘SmartEye’ feature on the MyGate app to put in place a foolproof mechanism for recording attendance of security guards and society housekeeping staff. 7. Pre-approve Visitors On The App In order to ensure hassle-free entry for visitors, residents can use the pre-approval feature of the MyGate app. With this feature, residents can invite visitors in advance by generating a 6-digit OTP. Visitors are allowed access after sharing this OTP with the security guard. In case the OTP is incorrect, the security guard can follow the normal approval process for visitors. 8. Approve Impromptu Visitors Through MyGate In case a visitor arrives without a passcode, the guard should create an entry using the visitor mode of the MyGate app. Residents can then approve the entry using the in-app ring or on the e-intercom. If neither of the two approvals are received, the guard should place a call via the normal intercom to seek approval. Visitors shouldn’t be let in without approval. 9. Make Use Of The Overstay Alert The management committee should set guidelines for the ‘Overstay alert’ via the app. This will raise an alert every time a delivery boy or a cab driver does not leave society within a specified time. The security guard can check for visitors who are still inside the premises post the security alarm.

Guidelines for Managing Vehicles:

10. Use Vehicle Mode In order to ensure smooth entry of resident vehicles without RFID or sticker, residents can add their vehicle numbers on the MyGate app. This enables the security guard to identify resident vehicles using the ‘Vehicle’ mode of the MyGate app, hence ensuring a smooth experience for the residents. 11. Manage Timed Entries With Ease In case a 4-wheeler belonging to a service provider needs access to the premises for at least 15 minutes, the guard can follow the normal visitor process. The security guard is expected to capture pictures of all members in the group. He can identify a leader and record his name and number on the MyGate app, along with the staff count for the resident’s approval.

Other Guidelines:

12. Ensure Authorized Access To Amenities For accessing the clubhouse, the residents can provide a 6-digit passcode available through the MyGate app. They will also need to upload their photos on the app to ensure that only the residents are given access to the clubhouse. 13. Raise Quick Alerts Residents are encouraged to use the templatised security alert feature of the MyGate app for quick alerts to the guard. 14. Broadcast Communications Faster Management committee should use the notice board feature on the admin portal for apartment wide communication on important guidelines and news. 15. Check The Living Dashboard Regularly The management committee should periodically access the admin dashboard to check the attendance of security and housekeeping staff as well as daily statistics on visitor movement to identify suspicious or irregular activity, if any. We hope that you are able to follow and implement these simple guidelines to maximise the MyGate convenience. Should you need any assistance, feel free to get in touch with our team at [email protected] We’d be happy to help!

POSTED ON June 18, 2019

Redevelopment of a Housing Society

Redevelopment is the process of demolishing an existing building altogether and constructing a new one. It is a massive undertaking that requires a highly proactive and careful approach on behalf of the housing society. Let’s dive into the specifics of redevelopment and its many components.

What is the procedure for the redevelopment of a housing society?

Before opting for redevelopment, the society must complete a Structural Audit of the existing building. Once that is accomplished, you’d have to consider the below-mentioned steps. 1. Call a Special General Body Meeting (SGM) The managing committee should convene a special meeting of the members to discuss the redevelopment project. The bye-laws state that 75% of the total number of members should be in agreement with the redevelopment project before it can be officially undertaken. (According to a redevelopment law amendment in Maharashtra, older and smaller buildings only need 51% of member approval). It is also recommended that a special redevelopment committee be set up to supervise the entire process. 2. Get quotations from Architects/Project Management Consultants (PMC) The Committee should invite bids from at least 5 architects/PMC and present their quotes to the members before zeroing in on one of them in another SGM. They should be empaneled with the government or a legitimate authority and have a good reputation in real estate development. The members are allowed to give valid inputs and suggestions throughout the process. 3. Submit proposal for Building Redevelopment Project After finalising terms and conditions, scope of work for the project with the architect/PMC, the committee must submit a proposal for the said project. 4. Receive Project Report Within two months of their appointment, the architect/PMC will present to the committee a Project Feasibility Report. This report considers factors such as Floor Space Index (FSI) and Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) with respect to total residential area, common spaces, gardens, etc. The Report is made available to all members of the society and suggestions are invited before any approvals are made. 5. Invite Tenders from developers The Architect/PMC prepares a Tender document to receive competitive bids from developers. One primary requirement is decided, which cannot be changed. This could be carpet area or corpus fund (an amount paid by the developer due to redevelopment). In a subsequent SGM attended by the officials of the developers, all the tenders are discussed in open in the presence of the members. 6. Choose a developer The Architect/PMC makes a comparative study of the tenders considering factors such as financial expenses, market reputation, technical soundness, successful projects of each developer and shortlist at least five. One of them is selected by the 3/4th majority of the members and the project can be initiated after making an agreement with the selected developer.

What are the documents needed for redevelopment?

Legal documents needed are society registration certificate, conveyance deed (necessary for self-development projects), sale deed, title certificate, a certified property card (showing ownership in the name of society), the original building plan, structural audit report, redevelopment agreement, copy of new approved plan, flat-wise carpet area list, Development Plan (DP) remark (details of the land and its surrounding area), electricity bill, water bill, and all other legal documents pertaining to the land and the buildings.

Self-redevelopment of a housing society

In recent times, more and more societies have started to opt for self-redevelopment, a process in which the builder/real estate developer is not involved in the equation at all. Societies hire architects/contractors and carry out the entire process by themselves. By choosing this option, the profit remains in the hands of the society and the possibility of fraud, delayed construction, loss of FSI does not occur. The members end up getting a higher incremental carpet area and the entire profit on the project gets divided equally among the members. Financial loans and government schemes are available for self redevelopment. As of January 2019, the government of Maharashtra is already considering giving a boost to the self-redevelopment model by sanctioning Rs.780 crore to redevelop 19 housing societies. In Mumbai alone, around 5800 projects are stalled due to glitches or setbacks at the hands of developers. Reportedly, around 50% of co-operative housing societies in Mumbai are in need of redevelopment. It was declared in March that the government will set up a special panel to incentivise self-redevelopment projects, especially in the suburbs. Mumbai Bank is giving a loan of Rs 50 crore per project. Other states are expected to follow suit in lieu of affordable housing initiative.

A word to the wise

Once you give your consent in writing for redevelopment, it is irrevocable in the court of law. Therefore, the decision must be deliberated upon with caution. Also, it is imperative that you hire the services of a competent lawyer to draw out the agreement between the society and the developer and ensure that the timeframe clause is strongly captured with applicable penalties if the developer is not able to finish the project on time. A developer is expected to finish the redevelopment project in two years with a maximum extension of one additional year. Along with the agreement, the developer is expected to give a bank guarantee of minimum 20% of the total project cost. Members residing in the building will have to move to temporary accommodation while the work is in progress. The developer usually provides alternative accommodation in the vicinity or pays monthly rents to the members for a year. Before the residents can move out and the building can be demolished, the developer must submit the building redevelopment proposal to the municipal government, who then issues an IOD (Intimation of Disapproval). NOCs from fire authority, environment authorities, etc. are obtained. After these procedures, the Commencement Certificate is given. The residents can also claim expenses of moving and packing. You are also entitled to receive a security deposit from the developer which is the entire amount of the cost of redevelopment.

What are the benefits of redevelopment?

If your building is at least 25 years old or in dilapidated conditions, structural repair and renovation will only increase its lifespan by 4 to 5 years. Redevelopment is a more feasible and sustainable choice for the long run. The market value of a redeveloped apartment is higher than that of a repaired one. Its saleability and resale value increase by manifold. A redeveloped building offers wider, cleaner, newer living spaces for the residents, thus raising their standard of living. Additionally, a redeveloped property usually gets upgraded amenities, such as swimming pool, gym, playground, community hall, the latest security systems, fire fighting systems, better lifts, bigger parking spaces among others. If your building is in a premium area and is slated to go for redevelopment, the market value will be even higher after redevelopment. Societies also have the provision to ask for an extra room in their apartment from the developer, thus making their living condition even more comfortable. If additional storeys are constructed, they can be sold off for profit, which, in a self redeveloped project. can become a massive source of revenue for the members. All said and done, a poorly managed or unsupervised redevelopment project can be a nightmarish experience for the members. The members should ensure a reliable managing committee looks after their interests and exercises utmost caution in handing over the project to a conscientious developer and keep a vigilant watch over every procedure of the entire process.

POSTED ON June 14, 2019

Structural Audit of a Housing Society

Your residential building is typically constructed to last for about 80 to 90 years. It is not too different from a living and breathing organism that is programmed to live a full and healthy life, if all goes well. However, with the passage of time, the structural sanctity of a building may be compromised due to rainfall, extreme weather conditions, natural calamities, wear and tear or sheer neglect. Enter Structural Audit… the vaccine your building needs in order to fight off the viruses of decay and ageing.

What is a structural audit?

Structural audit is an examination of the overall health of a building to ensure that it is safe, risk-free and habitable. The purpose of a structural audit is to correctly identify parts or sections of a building that may be in need of immediate repair, renovation or replacement. Structural audits are performed by licensed consultants who have the required expertise in civil construction and are empanelled with the government authorities. A structural audit is government mandated. For buildings that are between 15 to 30 years old, the statutory requirement is to conduct a structural audit once in 5 years. For buildings over 30 years, a structural audit must be conducted once every 3 years. The said durations begin from the date the completion certificate/occupation certificate was issued or since at least 50% of the occupation of the built-up area, whichever comes first.

Why is a structural audit important?

To enhance the overall lifecycle of the building, its components need to be periodically examined so that there is no danger to its inhabitants. Areas in need of crucial repairs need to be identified to employ corrective measures so that the day-to-day life of the residents is not inconvenienced on account of unexpected leakages or breakages. In the probable scenario that the builder has cut corners and left any sections of a building prone to collapse or faster dilapidation, a structural audit is your best bet to avert any disasters. Even if the building is relatively sound in its basic framework, it is likely that during a preceding repair or renovation, less than ideal quality materials were used that have led to further damage or leakage. In cases where continuous neglect from the stakeholders persists, it may happen that a massive redevelopment project needs to be undertaken, costing the residents exorbitant amount of money. A structural audit is a highly recommended preventive measure to avoid any calamitous eventualities altogether.

What are the stages of a structural audit?

To begin with, the society needs to hire a Project Consultant/Agency after inviting tenders from prospective service providers. The estimated repairs or preventive actions need to be approved in a general body meeting. Once an agency is appointed, it is the responsibility of the society’s committee to provide them with all the pertinent details, plans and designs of the building including information on any previous reparations and maintenance history. Below are the phases and techniques of a structural audit. Visual Inspection The first stage of a structural audit consists of a visual inspection that should lead to the identification of defects, material degradation, deformation of any sections or interior components. If alterations, additions or replacements are needed, they should be identified during the visual inspection too. All the elements of the building are examined, including but not limited to, columns, beams, slabs, balconies, false ceilings, roofs, parapets, railings, rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, lofts, mezzanine floors, stairways, water tanks, storage, plumbing lines, drainage lines. These inspections are carried out in order to ascertain cracks/deflections in retaining walls, leakages, and concrete durability. Dampness in the walls is also inspected along with varying loads on the structure that may have occurred. Additionally, soil bearing capacity is determined through pit trials or from soil data of the vicinity. Non-destructive Testing The structural integrity of a building is initially determined by the visual inspection; however, the strength and durability of concrete is an essential factor that decides its longevity and safety. For this purpose, non-destructive testing (NDT) should be carried out to check concrete strength, chemical attack resistance, corrosion assessment, among other things. Below are the common techniques to assess whether your building’s concrete will stand the test of time. – Rebound Hammer Test on beams, slabs, etc. to check the compressive strength of the concrete. – Ultrasonic Pulse Velocity Test to inspect cracks and to test the quality of concrete and natural rocks in the building. – Core testing consists of a method in which samples are tested in a laboratory to determine strength. – Chemical tests are performed to check carbonation and pH, water/acid soluble chloride and sulphate contents of the concrete. – Rebar locators and cover meters are used to check the cover, diameter and reinforcement of steel – Water permeability test is carried out to check the resistance of concrete under water pressure. – Half-cell potential test is done to check corrosion or the possibility of it in the steel. – Some other popular tests in current practice are Leak Testing, Electromagnetic Testing, Laser Testing, Magnetic Particle Testing, etc. – Earthquake resistance (seismic diagnosis test) and fire readiness (fire fighting system analysis) is measured and analysed by the structural auditors in addition to the above mentioned tests. Analysis Report A structural audit report is presented to the society by the consultant which entails the following: – Recommendations for repairs based on the assessment of deterioration, breakage, and faulty materials – Retrofitting, and restoration measures to bring the damaged components up to the required standard – Strengthening the current components of the building to make it more resistant to collapse and increase its load bearing capacity The consultant provides the cost of labour, materials, equipment and overall services to the society in the audit report, and offers expertise on future maintenance and cost-effective measures to slow down future deterioration.

Why should a housing society conduct a structural audit correctly?

It is no secret that a number of structurally unsound buildings collapse during monsoons or due to ill-maintenance. Buildings older than 20 or 30 years are often found lacking in integrity as per modern standards. If the repairs are not done carefully, the loss of human lives in addition to property can be devastating. As the adage goes, it is better to be safe than sorry. The only way to avoid such mishaps is to conduct your structural audit with utmost sincerity and apply remedial actions immediately. The managing committee should hire a reliable and recommended structural audit agency, which stands in good stead with customers. It is easy to fall into the trap of hiring a less-than-honest auditor who may offer his services at affordable prices and eventually do a half-baked job of misidentifying or overlooking critical repairs. At the same time, there is the possibility of someone overcharging and siphoning your money. Incompetent auditors who do their job poorly can leave your building open to damages and burn the society’s pocket holes in the long run. The most vigilant approach to a structural audit is staying involved and alert from the start to the end. Engage the services of a certified, empaneled audit agency that has a proven track record in the field. Do not hesitate to seek expert opinions online or offline. Compare the list of services offered by each provider and select the one that best suits your requirements.

The pros and pros of a structural audit

All that talk of precaution may seem enough to dampen the walls of your spirit. Fret not… there’s a silver lining to the task of a structural audit. Recent changes have led to a slashing in the professional fees of a structural audit in most areas of the country. There is also the provision of taking out a bank loan in case if extensive repairs are needed. The issue of safety is paramount in the eyes of the residents, which is why it becomes relatively easy to educate residents in the matters of critically needed repairs and restoration. The residents should be made aware of the benefits of a structural audit in the long run. A safeguarded building increases its own lifespan by decades. Most new buildings meet the quality standards set forth by the law with minor or negligent repairs that are discovered in structural audits. In the end, it is always wise to maintain good foresight and conduct timely structural audits for your housing society in order to thrive as a sustainable and safe community of mindful residents.

POSTED ON June 14, 2019

All You Need To Know About Society Maintenance Charges

Once you are the rightful owner of a residence in a housing society, you are part of a larger, more inclusive, white picket fence community. Home ownership is not only a matter of pride and joy, but a lifelong commitment that comes with a regular cost in form of maintenance charges. This, however, should not be perceived as a cause for concern but be regarded as an essential investment you make for a comfortable and practical living experience. While a sizeable number of online and offline resources would have you believe that maintenance charges are a complex and necessary evil, we’d like to assure you that not only are they easy to comprehend but also mostly justified and in compliance with the law. Let’s find out how.

Types of maintenance charges to be paid by the members

In India, model bye-laws vary from one state to another, albeit the basic anatomy is the same. The most detailed guidelines on maintenance charges are set forth by the state of Maharashtra, permutations and combinations of which may be followed by other states. The charges can be categorically divided as shown below: (Keep in mind that these are guidelines provided by the bye-laws, however based on different calculation systems, each society determines how much each member pays as maintenance charges… more on that later). Service charges: These include any charges incurred to acquire services and amenities, including but not limited to electricity for common areas, watchmen, lift operators, cleaning crew, and gardeners. Service charges are borne equally by all members. Repair and maintenance charges: These include taking care of all elements of the building such as internal roads, pumps, drainage, lift, tanks, generators, street lights, security equipment, among others. Rates are determined by the society’s governing body; subject to the minimum of 0.75% per annum, of the construction cost of each flat for meeting expenses of normal recurring repairs. Parking charges: Applies to those who own vehicles. Charges depend on the rates fixed by the society (usually vary for two-wheelers and four-wheelers). Water charges: Mandatory for all residents, the charges are based on the basis of total number and size of inlets provided in each flat. Non-occupancy charges: An amount to be paid even if you are not currently residing in the house/flat, however, these charges should not be more than 10% of the service charges. Sinking Fund: Emergency fund for unforeseeable situations is determined by the governing body of the society, subject to a minimum of 0.25% per annum of the construction cost of each flat. Property Tax: Decided by local authority, but not applicable outside Maharashtra since it is directly paid to the government Interest on defaulted payments: If you make late payments, you are liable to pay an interest on defaulted dues. Charges vary from society to society, but are subject to a maximum of 21% per annum on the charges. Insurance charges: Certain expenses for insuring the building and equipment may have to be paid (based on the built-up area of the flat) as part of the maintenance bill. You don’t have to pay the insurance premium for shops/flats used for commercial purposes by others in the building. Lease/rent charges: This is based on built up area of each flat / unit. Other charges: As decided by the governing body of the society as and when needed.

Is it mandatory to pay maintenance charges?

If you are in an independent apartment ownership, every amenity or service you require, you pay out of pocket but are not subject to an annual or monthly maintenance charge. In case of housing societies, it is mandatory to pay maintenance charges as you are agreeing to be a part of a larger, co-operative construct. As soon as you are a registered member, a maintenance contract is signed by you and the builder, making both parties legally liable to fulfil their respective duties. Once the builder hands over the affairs to the society, the managing committee takes over the handling of services. Paying maintenance charges is a valid and preferable arrangement as you don’t have to pay for large amounts of money alone in order to avail common services; the cost is shared by all members. Besides, a reasonable amount of flexibility is offered to members in terms of payment options and frequency.

How are maintenance charges calculated?

For a number of reasons, maintenance charges is a hotly contested topic in housing societies since there seems to be a general ignorance or discontent about how they are determined. As we perused above, each charge has a calculation based in logic, the details of which can be easily availed from the managing committee. But the law doesn’t concern itself with the issues of fair levying of charges as per the size of the residence and the utility of services. However, since the co-operative is a collaborative effort, every resident’s grievance or discomfort is duly noted and rightly resolved by the use of different calculation systems. Let’s explore them in detail. Charges based on per square feet: This system of calculation is used when the size of apartments are different. Your maintenance charges will depend on the total number of square feet in your apartment. For example, if the committee decides to levy Rs 2 per square feet and your apartment is 600 sq feet, you will pay Rs 1200. But if your apartment is 1200 square feet, you will pay Rs 2400. The downside of this method is that if apartments with larger sizes end up paying on the basis of square feet, they may have to pay a larger share towards maintaining and repairing common services for which smaller-sized apartments will pay less, even though the utility and access may be the same. Equal Fee: This is the ideal method to calculate maintenance charges when the sizes of all apartments is either exactly the same or approximately the same. In this method, the total maintenance charge to be collected per month is added and then equally divided among all residents, thus ensuring a fair and square deal for all. This is simple to calculate and dispute-free but does not appear as an impartial method if the apartment sizes are largely diverse from one another. Hybrid fee: This method is a combination of the above two types, doing away the need to choose one or the other, thus providing absolutely fair treatment to all members. In such a method, square feet based charges are applied to one clubbed component, say repair and maintenance charges and sinking fund. At the same time, equal fee calculation is applied to the other categories of charges such as service fees, lift expenses. Categories other than that already have specific and precise corresponding guidelines given in the model bye-laws. Applying a hybrid method is highly effective in case of fair and unbiased distribution of maintenance charges.

How often do you have to pay maintenance charges?

There are four payment cycles you can adopt – they are (1) annual (2) bi-annual (3) quarterly (4) monthly payment cycles. Housing societies decide upon one of these payment frequencies at the very initial stage and can make changes later. They have to consider factors such as timely payments of service/utilities, how many members are willing to pay maintenance in bulk amounts and ultimately, which is the easiest payment frequency with respect to collection and record-keeping. It is always recommended to stay on top of your maintenance charges to avoid late payments, which result in added interest. Paying your maintenance charges on time also establishes you as a responsible resident. However, be sure to examine any expenses that look out of place and bring them to the management’s notice promptly.

POSTED ON June 14, 2019

Special General Body Meetings in a Housing Society

A housing society functions under a framework of meetings, goals, tasks and agendas, much like a corporate office. Societies hold general body meetings (including special and annual general body meetings) for various reasons, in order to plan the administrative affairs of the society, to keep the members apprised of the society’s financial balance sheets, to conduct and hold the society elections, to review defaulted dues by members, and to discuss any relevant or imposing matters that society faces in the course of its being. As the name suggests, a Special General Body Meeting is called for undertaking a particular agenda or topic. Some reasons for calling special general body meetings are election awareness, redevelopment or reparation plans, important communication from government authorities, grave misconduct issues, among others. At the SGM, any business, other than the one mentioned as the agenda of the meeting is NOT discussed.

Why should you attend a Special General Body Meeting?

A circular on the notice board may seem unappealing or unnecessary for those of us who have busy lives and packed schedules. But special general body meetings are held to address critical issues that need your immediate attention and participation. Any matter that you consider worth your time may be on the agenda; for example, societies may need to carry out urgent repairs within the premises, upgrade their CCTV equipment after a suspicious incident, install new amenities for the betterment of the members, hold emergency replacements of office bearers, raise funds for emergencies not payable by the sinking fund. You’d want to stay up-to-date with such developments and not be at a loss when such changes may ultimately affect you directly, or indirectly. It is recommended that you regularly check your notice board for updates and decide your involvement in the agenda.

Guidelines for calling a Special General Body Meeting

If you think that a circular on your society’s notice board with a date, time and agenda is enough to conduct an SGM, you’d be wrong. There are mandatory steps that involve precise communication on behalf of the Managing Committee. Let’s delve a little deeper. Who can you call a Special General Body Meeting? What is the timeframe? SGM can be called at any time at the behest of the Chairman or by the decision of the majority of the Committee, within one month of the date of the official request in writing signed by at least 1/5th of the Members of the Society. Within seven days of receipt, the Secretary of the Society should fix the date, time and place for the Special General Body Meeting. 5 day’s notice of the meeting shall be given to all the members of the Society. The notice period may be even shorter in case of dire emergencies. However, in any case, the agenda should be clearly mentioned in the circular to the members. What is the quorum (minimum number of members required) for a Special General Body Meeting? Model bye-laws state that the quorum is 2/3rd of the total number of members of the Society or 20, whichever is less. Who conducts the SGM? The Chairman is in charge of the proceedings, however, in his absence, the members are free to elect one person from among themselves. Every member is allowed one vote (in case the agenda requires voting). Can a Special General Body Meeting be adjourned, reconvened or postponed? In case the required quorum is not present within half an hour of the specified time, the meeting can be rearranged at a later hour on the same day. It can be postponed to a later date as well, but cannot be called again before 7 days of the original date and must be called within 30 days of the original date. The same timeframe applies if the quorum is present and all goes well but the members are unable to conclude the meeting or arrive at a decision on that specific day. What if the Special General Body Meeting does not take place in spite of notice? If the person responsible for calling the SGM fails to conduct the meeting, the Registrar has the right to disqualify or penalise him. The Registrar then holds the authority to appoint a person to duly carry out the meeting. The Registrar’s intervention is mandated in the law and is called for when the agenda is highly critical or mandatory. In the case of regular housing societies, such situations rarely arise where legal intervention or action may be necessary. Who keeps a record of what happens at a Special General Body Meeting? Every General Body Meeting (including SGM) has to be recorded. The Managing Committee (specifically the Secretary or any other person appointed to draft minutes) is responsible for finalising the draft minutes within 3 months and circulate the draft minutes amongst all the members of the society within 15 days of the meeting. Upon receiving the minutes draft, the members have 15 days to respond with observations if they have any. If not, at a subsequent meeting, the Committee prepares the final minutes and records them in the minutes book.

How do Special General Body Meetings help your society to function better?

In collaborative endeavours such as a housing society, all members are considered valuable and treated as indispensable. Keeping members apprised of the important updates, decisions and developments regarding the workings of the society is the primary duty of a managing committee. In fact, a housing society is the finest example of a democratic process that is truly for the people, by the people and of the people. This undertaking does not serve its highest purpose if the members are disinterested or uninvolved in its practices. SGMs are essential events that are held only when an issue requires complete and undivided attention from the residents as well as the managing committee. To help societies thrive, to promulgate the ideals of transparency and accountability and to quickly and intensely resolve impending dangers, special general body meetings are not only necessary but also highly effective. While as model residents, you should be willing to participate and get involved in SGMs, as part of an effective managing committee you should be prompt to suggest SGMs in order to resolve any issues that take precedence and need urgently addressed.

POSTED ON June 11, 2019

Rights of Members in a Co-operative Housing Society

In life, we are constantly reminded of our ‘responsibilities’ and can be so busy fulfilling them that we pay little or no heed to our ‘rights’. A situation completely avoidable, we say; especially when it comes to being a member of a co-operative society. Unlike in independent apartment ownership, you are entitled to a whole range of benefits and rights in a co-operative society. But you can only reap the rewards of optimum living if you are irrefutably aware of what is owed to you. So, we took the time to give you an insight into legal rights you are granted in a co-operative society. Dial up your woke by knowing your inalienable rights as a registered member.

Why is it important for you as a member to know what rights you hold?

The model bye-laws provide certain provisions to active members (who have made the necessary payments/acquired share capital in a society). This allows them access to an immersive role in the workings of the society, while ensuring that their common interests and fundamental rights are taken care of. Once you invest a substantial amount of money in your house, it is quite natural that you would want to safeguard your property and your investment against any swindle, neglect or wrongdoing. By all measures, knowing and exercising your rights makes you a responsible, savvy and an important contributor to your society’s welfare as well as your own. Let’s take an in-depth look at your rights.

What are your rights as a housing society member?

1. Right to receive a copy of model bye-laws Every society follows either the model bye-laws (or a variation of them), a copy of which has to be made available to all members. A prudent homeowner who likes to run a tight ship is well-versed with even the fine print. But for those of us who may not have the time to read all the bye-laws, it makes sense to glance through the contents and delve deeper as and when needed. 2. Right to nominate associate and nominal members You can nominate an associate member who holds the right, title and interest in the property individually or jointly with others, but whose name does not stand first in the share certificate.The first nomination is free while fresh nominations are charged Rs.100 for membership. For the same fee, you can also appoint a nominal member who holds to legal ownership of the property. 3. Right to occupation and possession Once you are allotted your residence, you have the right to possess and occupy the said housing. With your written consent, an associate member or a nominal member can also occupy the residence. 4. Right to inspect records You can rightfully inspect free of cost books, registers, documents, annual profit-loss statements, etc. to examine financial transactions of the society. This is a helpful measure in case any embezzlement or fraud is suspected. 5. Right to attend the Annual General Meeting As an active member of the society, you are entitled to attend the AGMs, the agenda for which includes the annual budget, financial statements, audit reports and other crucial developments. Additionally, you are rightfully allowed to read the minutes of the meeting of any annual, general or special meetings of the committee in case you have not been able to attend them. 6. Right to vote Every housing unit gets one vote in the society’s election. If you have defaulted any payments, your right to vote remains intact. You also have the right to nominate members for various roles in the governing body and second any nominations you see fit. (If you are not a defaulter, you can nominate yourself in the election.) 7. Right to transfer shares, exchange and sublet apartments/housing units After giving a prior notice of 15 days to the managing committee, you can transfer shares and interest in the capital/property of the Society to another person. However, a transfer fee of Rs.500 applies along with the requisite paperwork. You also have the right to exchange flats with a joint application and a valid reason for doing so. You can sublet your residence or give it on lease after intimating the committee and submitting a copy of the leave and license agreement, along with a copy of the intimation report to the police station. 8. Right to resign You can resign from membership of the society after giving three months notice to the Secretary. Once the resignation is accepted, the Society acquires your shares and interests the capital/ property of the Society and pays you the value thereof. An associate member, nominal member, subletter, etc. can resign any time by writing a letter to the Secretary.

Why should you know your rights as a housing society member?

Model bye-laws can be quite bewildering if it is your first time as a member of a co-operative. However, with a little personal effort and research, the law can most definitely be turned into a trusted ally rather than a tormentor. Knowledge of your rights makes your life easier; not just because it encourages compliance with model bye-laws, but also because it helps you handle regular life scenarios more effectively. We often face uncertain or unwanted situations in life that demand attention, forcing certain changes in our schedules and plans. Knowing your basic rights with respect to your living situation makes you well-prepared for such times.Whether you need to relocate to a different city, want to rent your apartment, suspect any malpractice in the society’s committee, feel the need to voice your opinions and ideas for the betterment of the society, or simply just wish to be a part of the bigger picture of a gated community, it makes complete sense to know your rights as a member first and foremost. Co-operative societies are largely a voluntary endeavor and the committee members are more often than not law abiding citizens. It only behoves individual members to do their part and contribute positively towards the idea of communal living.

POSTED ON June 8, 2019

Feature In Focus: Recurring Invite

On MyGate, you can now pre-approve the entry of regular visitors to your home for an extended period of time. So if you’ve had to respond to entry requests from your milkman every morning, you can now approve their entry for the next 30 days in just a click. The feature works for all types of visitors – cabs, deliveries, visiting help and guests.

What is ‘Recurring Invite’?

Does Big Basket bring home your groceries every evening? Do you order lunch every Sunday afternoon? Recurring Invite is a feature that allows you to approve their entry for the long term. You can do this through the ‘Allow Future Entry’ section within Quick Actions. You have several options while creating such an invite. You could create one for 1 week, 15 days or a month, for a certain time of the day.

Why We Built This Feature?

There are visitors who seek entry to your house frequently. This may apply to deliveries, cabs, technicians or even guests. With the ‘Recurring Invite’ feature, you can pre-approve entries for frequent visitors for a certain period of time to avoid having to provide approvals every day.

How It Works

1. Open the MyGate app; 2. Click on ‘Quick Actions’ at the bottom of your screen and select ‘Delivery/Guest/Cab/Visiting Help’, as per your need; 3. You will have two options to choose from, ‘Allow Once’ or ‘Allow Frequently’; 4. Select the ‘Allow Frequently’ option; 5. On the next screen, set the validity of the entry (days of the week, length of the invite, etc). 6. You can also add and track all your frequent entries in the ‘Household’ section.

Creating A Recurring Invite

Editing A Recurring Invite

Should you have any questions about this feature, write in to [email protected]

POSTED ON June 4, 2019

MyGate Journeys: Anubhaw Jain

I signed up to be MyGate’s first member over three years ago, when there was nothing more than an idea. The opportunity fit what I was looking for — the chance to build an intelligent solution to a real-world problem, to build a tech product from scratch, and to do everything it takes to scale. Two weeks later, I moved to Bangalore. The founders and I sat out of a single cabin in a co-working space in Koramangala, discussing every tiny aspect of the product. Often, these sessions lasted hours, covering technology, user interactions, implications for the consumer, business consequences and more. Some of these conversations rank among the most fulfilling experiences of my professional life.

Attention to Detail

An outsider may have thought us foolish for not using the time to clumsily rush out newer and newer features every other week. But this isn’t what MyGate was about, even in the early days. We were all obsessed with building something that would scale. For the first 9 months, we were just focused on building a great product, not acquiring customers. I’m convinced that this early investment in a strong product has paid rich dividends since. For example, much of the infrastructure we put in place in 2016 is still in use today. MyGate 2016

Significant Exposure

All of this has come with tremendous learning. I’m an engineer by training, and though I was always confident of my fundamentals, I needed more exposure. I got more than this in the first year alone – working on multiple programming languages, frameworks, DevOps, end-to-end development. It’s a coder’s dream cocktail – and the bonus has been the fact that the product now makes the lives of hundreds of thousands of people much easier every single day. From a personal standpoint, it makes me most happy to learn that someone I know has begun using something I had a hand in building. It happens more often these days, of course – former classmates or old friends will call to tell me that MyGate is now in their community. It’s a wonderful feeling I’ll never grow tired of.

Same Culture, At Scale

Even when we first moved into our second office, we were just 10 or 12 of us. The culture was ambitious and passionate, but also friendly. Even the youngest coder would walk up to the founders and make a recommendation. Some of these have even been implemented! Even now at 500+ people, with offices around the country, it’s heartening to see that the same culture exists. Just a week ago, one of the youngest members of our tech team held a knowledge sharing session after building something unique. This is exactly the kind of company I wanted to have a hand in building. Such chances don’t come along often. For the latest openings at MyGate, click here.

POSTED ON June 3, 2019

MyGate ‘Silences’ Deliveries To Gated Communities For Seamless Customer Experience

MyGate, India’s leading community management platform, today announced the launch of a silent and secure delivery experience for its users. This will enable its users to approve the entry of delivery executives without any interaction with the main gate and further strengthens the security protocol at MyGate communities. For this first-of-its-kind feature, MyGate has partnered with multiple e-commerce brands, including Swiggy, Zomato, Dunzo and Grofers.

How ‘Silent and Secure Delivery’ Works

MyGate’s users must enable the feature for auto-approval of deliveries from their preferred brands. For each delivery to the user, the brands will then share the assigned delivery executive’s details with MyGate. On their arrival, the delivery executive need only share a phone number with the guard at the main gate for a quicker check-in, creating a seamless experience for the user and ensuring that only the delivery executive originally assigned by the e-commerce player is authorised to enter the community.

Three-Month Pilot

During a three-month pilot in Bengaluru, residents used the feature over 1 million times. In comparative trials, it was found to reduce the check-in time to under 15 seconds from up to 3 minutes earlier, thereby creating a hassle-free experience for delivery executives and enabling brands to significantly improve on an otherwise time-consuming component of last-mile delivery. MyGate will now roll out the feature to communities in 9 other cities it is present in, including New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Pune and Hyderabad. Speaking about the new feature, Vijay Arisetty, CEO & Cofounder, said, “Our objective is to simplify urban living by reducing the friction of every interaction within a gated community. With e-commerce now integral to the daily routine, and delivery numbers increasing every day, a silent, secure entry procedure was essential. Through these partnerships, our communities will experience smoother, safer deliveries and a reduction in gate congestion.” Founded in 2016, MyGate is an end-to-end community management solution that enables over 500,000 homes in 2,500+ gated communities to manage their deliveries, daily staff, visitors, society payments and communications in a click. The company raised Series A funding of $9 million in a round led by existing investors, Prime Venture Partners.

About MyGate:

MyGate is a technology-forward solution for gated communities, now simplifying the daily lives of residents, managing committees and security personnel across the country. Named one of India’s most innovative start-ups in 2018, the company’s several innovative features today augment security at the gate and enhance convenience within for over 500,000 homes in 10 Indian cities.

POSTED ON May 29, 2019

How to form a Co-operative Housing Society in Delhi-NCR

Delhi-NCR is the fastest developing urban hub of North India. While the premium and mid-range housing projects are predicted to pick up by 2020, the focus has been strengthened on affordable housing, a segment that is slated to be the future of real estate in the Indian economy. The government’s agenda for ‘housing for all’ has fueled the movement since 2018 on a massive scale and with private companies in the mix, a sizeable number of housing projects have been initiated in the region. If you’re about to form a housing co-operative society in Delhi NCR, you should be aware of the basic procedure of registration which has specific requirements according to the Delhi Co-operative Societies Act. Nevertheless, the procedure is hassle-free if you follow this step-by-step guide.

What are the prerequisites to form a housing society in Delhi NCR?

The Delhi Co-operative Societies Act, 2003 states that at least 15 Promoter Members are required to apply for registering a society. Anyone who is a member of any other co-operative with similar objects cannot apply. The applicant should belong to different families should have been a resident of the National Capital Territory of Delhi for a minimum period of three years at the time of applying for membership in such a society. The Registrar inspects if the society is economically sound and follows viability norms in accordance with the laws.

The procedure to form a housing society in Delhi NCR

Selection of Chief Promoter: Those members who intend to start a co-operative should get together and form a working committee and select a Chief Promoter. Name Reservation: The promoter members have to select a name for the society. A specific clause in the Act states that the name should be such that it should reflect no discrimination of gender, social, inequality, racial, political ideology and also consider religious sentiments. Open a bank account: Promoter members should collect the share capital, entrance fees and open a bank account in the name of the proposed society. In case of a co-operative bank, prior written permission of the Reserve Bank for registration will be needed by the Registrar. Submit Registration Proposal: The next step is to submit an Application for Registration, the form for which is available here. Documents required for Registration: – Four copies of the proposed bye-laws of the co-operative society signed by each promoter member – List of promoter members along with their name, address, profession, monthly income, proof of residence including ID proofs attested by Gazetted Officers – A copy of bank account passbook with the address of the bank – A certificate from the financing bank to the effect that the amount of the share capital raised by the promoters has been deposited in the name of the cooperative society – Confirmation of availability of land from land allotting agency. You will also need to send copies of ownership documents of land owned by the promoter members along with the certificate of residential land use for group housing from the relevant local body. – A list of promoters members who have contributed to the share capital together with the amount contributed by each of them, and the entrance fee paid by them – The scheme showing the details of working of the cooperative society – A declaration on oath from each of the promoter members stating he is not a member of the family of any other promoter joining in the application for registration – An affidavit from each promoter member is required to be submitted along with the application form – Each promoter member should submit a certified resolution which shows they have adopted the bye-laws – Any other documents specifically requested by the Registrar Receive acknowledgement from Registrar Upon receiving the application, the Registrar assigns a serial number to it and issues an acknowledgement. The documents are verified and application is processed by the Registrar within a period of ninety days from the date of receipt. While it is under review, the Registrar allows a period of one month to the promoter members to modify the proposed bye-laws before finally registering the co-operative society. Receive Registration Certificate Once the Registrar is satisfied with the application, it issues a certificate which is evidence that the society is duly registered as per the Act. The Registrar also provides to the co-operative society, a copy of the bye-laws duly approved and registered by him.

Managing Committee and Resident Welfare Association

Every co-operative society should commence its business within 180 days from the date of its registration and form a managing committee to look after all affairs of the co-operative. Additionally, In Delhi NCR, co-operative societies form a Resident Welfare Association for each colony, a block or a pocket of the colony, the formation of which is voluntary and the intention of which is to represent the interests of the residents. It has to function under the Managing as a sub-committee that is formed to help the management of the society but have no statutory powers. However, they do have a governing body to manage the day to day affairs of the co-operative.

How much does it cost to Register a co-operative society in Delhi NCR?

Minimum share capital required (commonly known as a deposit) to form a housing society is Rs. 60,000 which has to be raised by the promoter members first. The registration fee for Housing Society is Rs.2,500/- and for general Society is Rs.1250/-.The admission fees are mutually decided by the promoter members and the amount is usually fixed at Rs 500, but could be more or less. If you hire legal services for registering a society, it could cost anywhere between Rs 25,000 to Rs 35,000.

Address and contact details

Office of the Registrar of Co-operative Societies Sansad Marg, Old Court Building, Janpath, New Delhi, Delhi 110001 Phone: 011 2374 4492 Registrar of Cooperative Societies, Delhi, West Lawrence Road, Old Middle School Building, Rajauri Office, Rampura, Delhi 110035

Is it mandatory to register a co-operative society in Delhi NCR?

It is not mandatory to register a housing society. However, to be protected under the statutes of law and to avoid being embroiled in lengthy and expensive legalities in case of disputes, it is highly recommended to register your society.

POSTED ON May 20, 2019

Essential Documents For Completing Builder To Society Handover

The handover from builder to co-operative is a critical process that requires due diligence from both sides. It can take anywhere from three to five months for the handover legalities to come to fruition, involving financial, operational and technical aspects. We bring you a complete guide that helps you understand the entire endeavor from start to finish.

Initial Stage of the Handover

Typically, the average time for the construction of a residential complex and sale of houses/flats is three years. It is advisable that during the final stages of construction, the buyers should get actively involved in the legal process to ensure things are on track. At the same time, registration of your co-operative is imperative to ensure a hassle-free handover.

What are the property certificates and documents to be obtained from the builder?

You may be familiar with some of the below-listed certificates as the builders sometimes use them in their marketing and advertising strategies as trust-building tools to lend credence to the building project. At the time of the handover, they should be first on your checklist. Approved Building Plan The builder has to hand over a copy of the construction plan along with block-wise and floor-wise details, approved by the local authority. Completion Certificate The local authority issues this as proof that the construction is done as per required norms. Occupancy Certificate This certificate is proof that the building is suitable for occupation by the residents. No Objection Certificates NOCs are provided from water, fire, pollution and electrical authorities.

What are the financial documents to be handed over?

The protocol involves the handing over of all financial accounts, documents and records from the builder for which the society should ideally appoint an auditor/tax expert professionally or from within the members so that no malfeasance or inadvertent mishandling is possible. The following are the handover essentials:- – Insurance documents of the building; – Payment records of taxes paid for property and construction; – Payment receipts of water and electricity services along with details of security deposits and no due certificates; – Financial records of maintenance charges and service tax paid while the premises were under the builder’s care; – Handing over corpus/leftover investment amount; – A statement or record of all collections made from the members (other than the purchase amount); – Audited account statements related to all of the above

What is the operational handover required from the builder?

The operational handover can seem like a straightforward process actually entails a wide range of inventories and technical manuals for which the society should involve someone savvy with a working knowledge and understanding of machines and heavy equipment. Safety and security of the residents is of paramount importance for any society. Every component of the premises should be checked beforehand by the Managing Committee physically at the time of the handover. – Annual Maintenance Contracts (AMCs) and vendor information along with bills and service records of the purchased equipment, such as generators, gym equipment, sewage and water treatment plants, etc.; – Manual drawings, technical details and specifications of sewage and water treatment plans; – List of all amenities and assets in the building including movable and immovable ones; – Detailed and approved compounding layouts of convenience stores, offices, etc that constitute the building premises; – Piped gas systems diagrams (if applicable) along with approval from relevant authorities, inspection records; – CCTV Access Control System (if applicable) with user manuals, technical warranty, contracts and inspection report; – Drawings of electrical wiring with earthing points, instructions on safety measures, generator set configurations and diesel storage facility; – Water piping diagrams, lab tests of water quality, overhead tanks’ technical documentations, borewell yield report, and documented evidence of rain-water harvesting compliance; – Fire/ emergency detectors and alarm systems with technical documents and instructions on resident alert protocol, panic button systems, inventory of hoses, hydrants and fire extinguishers; – Automobile parking with layout and numbering; – Layout and drawings of common areas including community hall, playground, and others; – Lift license documents, clearance to operate them, safety manuals, warranty documents and details of renewal; – Approval, specifications and vendor agreements for multi-utility pre-paid meter with validated software and tariff rates; – Records of existing maintenance/service staff and their detailed work schedule.

What are the legal documents needed for a handover?

As the society and the builder deal with multiple government authorities and third parties with respect to services, taxes and operations, the paperwork can be long and tiring. Nonetheless, it is imperative that the Managing Committee stays vigilant and well-prepared to review all the legal documents at the time of the handover. – All legal documents signed between the builder and the landowner have to be handed over to the society; – Deed of conveyance and sale of ownership for every member along with Share Certificate Copies should be duly passed on to the society’s office-bearers; – Legally binding contracts signed with any vendors or maintenance companies should be provided to the society along with zero dues certificates/guarantee; – Insurance documents for amenities/equipments and third party inspection contracts; – Record of car parking allocation provided to members; – Undertaking by the Builder regarding Indemnity & Limitation of Liabilities of the Society for all transactions prior to the handover date. The process of handover is not one that should be unnecessarily rushed or looked over. Getting hold of the right documents and certificates on time with proper checks and inspections is your first step towards building a cohesive co-operative that is well-aligned within and compliant in the eyes of the authorities.

POSTED ON May 20, 2019

Roles and Responsibilities of a Society Management Committee

The Managing Committee of a housing co-operative is its nerve centre, steering the society towards a wholesome, efficient and harmonious existence. Whether it is financial management, member grievances or day-to-day affairs, the MC has to run like a well-oiled machine to create the best living conditions for the residents. We have put together a comprehensive guide with checklists in this article so that you can be well-informed and prepared for the myriad roles you may have to assume as part of the MC.

What are the core duties of the Managing Committee?

Once the registration and selection of the first committee have taken place, the regular functions of the MC include monetary transactions, daily management, obligatory membership servicing and compliance with the laws.

Financial Duties

– To collect society charges, including but not limited to property tax, water charges, lift/parking/service charges, non-occupancy charges, repair and maintenance charges. These rates are fixed by the committee from time to time (on the basis of proportion stated in bye-laws) upon discussion with the members; – To raise funds and deposits from the member; – To decide the rates of contribution, manage and collect Reserve Fund and Sinking Fund; – To fix the rate of insurance premiums to be paid by members in case if there is a commercial use of the flat; – To collect interest from defaulting members; – To insure the property of the society.

Duties towards the members

– To consider and decide resignations from members/office-bearers and record nominations and revocations that may follow after; – To issue allotment letters of flats once a member buys them and make available to members the papers of the society; – To take required action once a membership ends; – To refund shares and associated interest if and when due in case they have been acquired by the society; – To review complaints registered by the members and take necessary actions to resolve them; – To organize events, festivals and special days to encourage camaraderie and friendships among the members.

Operational Duties

– To authorize a Committee member to attest any document that bears the seal of the society, such as lease agreements, deed of conveyance, share certificates, etc. – To look after the lift operations, manage and instruct service staff about their duties and take care of their compensations and accommodation (if any). – To maintain, inspect the property of the society and carry out renovations, repairs as and when needed. – To review and finalise vendor applications for services needed in the society, e.g. produce stalls, dry cleaning services, etc. – To regulate parking – To supervise compliance of bye-laws and society rules by the members and suggest fines or penalties in case if a consistent breach is found – To review the Secretary’s report on inspection of flats – To hold election of a new committee in a timely manner, to elect new office-bearers, consider their resignations and replacements – To organise and recommend general body meetings and hold annual/special general body meetings – To hold a Committee meeting at least once a month

Executive Duties

– To execute a deed of conveyance of the land and building/s; – To approve the audit rectification reports of statutory and internal audits and to forward them to the authorities concerned; – To scrutinise tenders received for construction work and to submit the same along with the committee’s report to the meeting of the General Body and to enter into a contract with the contractor; – To enter into a contract with the Architect of the society in case of redevelopment; – To ensure that the Society is affiliated to Housing Federation and its subscription is regularly paid.

What are the duties of the Chairman?

When the managing committee is elected, the Chairman is at the helm of all affairs for five years and is expected to keep a watch over all activities of the Committee. The chair is accountable and answerable for any malfunction during his term and has the final decision power in all matters. Here’s what the chair does: – He presides over all the meetings of the Committee, determines the quorum and reviews the agenda of every meeting beforehand. – He has the power to allow or bar any issue from being included in the meeting agenda but like a democracy, he has to have a reason for doing so. – When it comes to voting, if there is an equal number of votes for or against a matter, the Chair decides to cast a decisive vote, i.e he has two votes. – He is the Signatory for bank operations out of joint authority. – He is the final authority on ballot decisions, expenditure approvals, acceptance of procedural decisions, committee nominations, proxy attendees in a meeting, and disciplinary actions. – The Chair is responsible for initiating community building activities and maintaining a healthy and progressive environment in a co-operative.

What are the roles and responsibilities of the Secretary?

The job of the Secretary comes with responsibilities that can sometimes seem daunting, but once you get to the brass tacks, the role is quite rewarding and engaging. a. Record-keeping The Secretary is required to maintain immaculately the accounts, records and registers of the society, including the Cash Book, Ledgers, Sinking Fund/Investment Register, Audit Register, Nomination Register and The Minutes Book. Additionally, he is in charge of membership files, plans of construction, bank account statements, society statement of accounts, annual reports, election documents, vouchers for expenses, member applications/complaints, among others. b. Organizational activities – The Secretary is responsible for organizing meetings and recording the minutes. – He must liaise between the Chair and members with respect to the meeting agendas, check the quorum and ensure that the items on the agenda are carried out completely. – He must issue share certificates to the members on time, deal with resignations, expulsions, and cessations of memberships. – He must carry out the conduct of election thoroughly in the manner prescribed in the bye-laws. – He should produce records of the Society before different authorities concerned with the working of the Society with the consent of the Chairman. – He must bring to the committee’s notice any breach of the rules/laws or default cases and be present at disciplinary hearings. – He must finalise the accounts of the preceding year, prepare the receipts and payments Statement, the Income and Expenditure Statement for the year and the Balance Sheet as at the close of the year. – He is responsible for the functioning, recruitment and compensation of the service staff, including watchmen, lift-operators, cleaning crew, vendors, etc. c. Communication & Correspondence – The Secretary must issue notices and agenda of all meetings of the general body and the committee. – He must issue a letter of allotment of flats, prepare and issue demand notices/bills for payment to the Society’s charges, issue a notice of repairs to be carried out in flats. – He is in charge of all types of communication and applications received by the society from members, vendors and be the go-between for the committee and the members. – He deals with communication with the authorities, including correspondence with the Co-Operative Registrar, correspondence on common electric supply, property taxes including Non-agricultural taxes. – The Secretary must inspect the property of the Society and visit flats for inspection after prior notice to the members. Even though running a co-operative can be a challenging task,it is by no means insurmountable. A well-integrated and proactive MC is the key to a thriving co-operative.

POSTED ON May 20, 2019

Housing Society Annual General Body Meeting in Mumbai

It is mandatory for every housing co-operative to hold an Annual General Body Meeting according to Model Bye-Laws set in place by the government of Maharashtra. Such meetings take stock of the yearly activities of co-operative housing societies in Mumbai, keeping the members apprised of the critical developments and overall financial accounts, thus fostering accountability, transparency and smooth functioning of the society on the whole. Any pertinent or pressing issues are openly discussed and every member’s participation is encouraged, which enables collectively agreeable solutions and a general sense of unity and co-operation. This article will help you familiarise yourself with the basic rules and structure of an Annual General Body Meeting.

When should the Annual General Body Meeting be held by societies in Mumbai?

The Model Bye-Laws state that a co-operative’s Annual General Body Meeting should be held on or before 30th September of every year. The society’s management committee is responsible for ensuring that the Meeting is arranged before the given timeline. Upon a collectively agreed date and time by the committee members, the Society’s Secretary is required to sign a notice that should be given to the members 14 days before the meeting, not counting the day the notice is given and excluding the day of the meeting.

Who should attend the Annual General Body Meeting?

Ideally, every member should attend the Meeting in order to stay updated with the affairs and activities of the co-operative. The quorum (minimum number of members required for the meeting to be considered valid) for every general body meeting of the Society is 2/3rd of the total number of Members of the Society or 20, whichever is less. A member who has not attended a single general body meeting for a period of five years consecutively is classified as a non-active member and has no right to participate in the Annual General Body Meeting. In case of co-ownership of a flat/house, the first name on the share certificate is allowed to attend. In case they cannot, the second name can attend with written permission from the first name. No proxy or a holder of power of attorney or letter of authority is eligible to attend an Annual General Body Meeting of the Society on behalf of a Member of the Society.

How to Conduct the Meeting

The meeting usually takes place on the premises of the society, usually the community hall. Minutes of meeting from the last year have to be read before the proceedings. Finance Report: The foremost on the agenda is the finance report of the society which shows the income and expenditure account of the previous year along with the balance sheet and audit report. The President, Treasurer and Secretary must remain present during the meeting and sign upon the audited reports. The Chairman presides over the meeting. In case he/she is unavailable, members can agree upon a substitute to take care of the proceedings. The next year’s Annual Budget is discussed and agreed upon and an Auditor is appointed. After the finance report and associated decisions, other matters of importance are discussed. The committee members are expected to be well-versed with the finance report and be prepared for any questions the members may raise.

Other Matters

Improvement of Society: Any decisions or rules/laws made in the previous year to enhance or improve society’s functioning and manage its day-to-day affairs are discussed. Community Concerns: Member’s concerns, queries or complaints about parking spaces, common areas, lifts, security measures, among others are discussed. Facility Staff: Any matters related to the maintenance crew are addressed, including but not limited to their hiring, salaries, timings, and responsibilities. Dues: Pending dues by defaulting members and actions necessary to rectify or prevent such behaviour are taken into consideration. Upcoming Events: A calendar of events, festivals or special days to be celebrated in the next year is to be created. This can be revisited or modified in the follow-up meetings. External Communication: Any communication received from the government authorities such as from the Registering Authority, the Statutory Auditor, Government, Collector, Local Authority or any other Competent Authority are to be discussed. Members’ Conduct: Any matters related to a general code of conduct or misdemeanors/ violations committed by members that may threaten the workings of the society. Election Dates: Date and conduct of election of its Committee when due, is to be declared.

Prior Notice

There are no restrictions on what can be discussed during the meeting, with the permission of the Chairman. However, the following matters cannot be discussed without prior notice: – Removal of any member of the society – Amendments to the bye-laws – Divisions or amalgamations of the society – Transfer of property Once the meeting is over (or even before the meeting starts) all present members are required to sign their attendance against the number of their house/flat. If, within half an hour of the appointed time of the meeting, the required quorum is not present, the meeting should be reconvened to a later time of the same day or any other day (after seven days and before thirty days of the originally planned date of the meeting.) A notice about the reconvened meeting should be issued to all members. If all the items on the agenda were not completely discussed due to lack of time or any other reason, the meeting can be continued at another date within 30 days. The Committee is responsible for preparing a draft of the Minutes of Meeting and circulate it among the members within the first 15 days. The members may reply in 15 days if they have any observations. The final Minutes of Meeting have to be recorded in the Minutes Book by the Secretary or any other person designated for the job. For an active member of the society, it is not only recommended but also conscientious to attend Annual General Body Meetings in order to be aware of the annual finances in which you have a stake, to forge stronger relationships with fellow members, resolve or highlight any problems or inconveniences, and contribute towards forming a healthy co-operative.

POSTED ON May 13, 2019

Election Procedure for Housing Societies

Co-operative housing societies follow the model bye-laws, which are comprehensive and prescribe a number of rules and procedures for elections. In this article, we will simplify and decode the procedure for Election in Housing Societies, covering the important facets that truly matter.

Election Due Date

Within the first three months of registration of the society, the Chief Promoter is required to call the First General Body Meeting of the society, Election being one of the topmost priorities of the meeting along with the constitution of the Provisional Committee until regular elections are held under bye-laws of the Society. Regular elections are supposed to be held once every five years as per the Bye-Laws.

Voting Rights

All members: According to a recent amendment, any eligible or associate member is to be granted the right to vote as soon as he/she is admitted as a member of the society. One house, one vote: Each unit of a housing society has a vote. For example, if you own multiple flats/houses in a society, each of them is liable to get a vote. Even those who default payments are allowed to vote. Who is not eligible for candidature? According to the Model Bye-Laws, a critical reason for a member to not be able to contest an election is if he defaults the payment of dues to the society, within three months from the date of service of notice in writing. An Associate Member (a person with joint ownership whose name does not stand first in the Share Certificate) for whom the Original Member has not issued a No-Objection Certificate cannot contest the Election. Proposers (someone who nominates a candidate) and seconders (someone who supports the nomination) have no such restrictions as they are allowed to nominate and support any number of candidatures irrespective of defaulted payments or arrears. How many members are required in a Managing Committee? Under Bye-Law 113, the strength of the Managing Committee could be made up of 11, 13, 15, 17 or 19 members, with respect to the number of total members in the society. The break-up is as follows:
Number of members in a SocietyGeneralReserved (Women SC/ST OBC VJ/NT/SBC)TotalQuorum for Meeting (simple majority of the existing Committee Members)
Upto 10065116
101 to 20085137
201 to 300105158
301 to 500125179
501 and above1451910

Forming a Managing Committee

Model Bye-Laws from 114 to 116 have put forth certain laws that help you in forming a strong and reliable Managing Committee. Members of the Committee are to be elected every five years (before the expiry of the five-year term). An E-2 form to be submitted to the to the District Co-operative Election Officer or Taluka or Ward Co-operative Election Officer six months prior to the expiry of the Committee period of the society in case if the society has over 200 members. If they do not notify the State Election Authority and continue to hold office, it is a violation of the law resulting in action from the Registrar. In order to oversee the objectives, special requirements or functions of the Society, two Expert Directors and/or two Functional Directors may be co-opted. But they will have no right to vote and do not count as members of the Managing Committee. No office bearer is allowed to have any financial, transactional or vested interests with regards to the society, unless the financial transactions involve giving residential accommodation to the paid member of the society. Societies with less than 200 members conducting independent elections are liable for a Rs 25,000 fine if they fail to produce accounts, documents, or paperwork to the government or the members of the society. Who is not eligible for joining the Managing Committee and is disqualified from it? Members with questionable moral behaviour, defaulted payments within three months of written notice, Associate Member without NOC from original member are not eligible. Anyone who sublets or rents their house without notifying the society in advance is also not eligible. Anyone who fails to furnish valid bookkeeping/expenditure records with respect to the funds provided by the society is not eligible. Anyone who neglects their assigned duties and is deemed to be in breach of trust is not eligible to be part of the committee. Over and above that, if a member has failed to attend any three consecutive monthly meetings of the Committee, without leave of absence, he is disqualified from the Committee. Retired members who have not been disqualified are eligible for election.

Election Procedures and Rules in Housing Societies

At least three months prior to the Election date, the initial procedures must be declared to the voters by the Managing Committee ( or the Provisional Managing Committee in case if the first Election is to be conducted). A Returning Officer should be appointed to carry out the Voting Procedures and ensure adherence of the rules. A Returning Officer should be someone who is not contesting the Election in any capacity. Nor should he be proposing or seconding a candidate. In other words, he should be an absolutely unbiased and trusted individual. Usually, someone takes up this position voluntarily. Otherwise, members jointly entrust the responsibilities on a member they deem fit for the duties. In many cases, a financial compensation is made to the Returning Officer for his professional services. The Conduct of Election should involve the following steps that make the entire procedure methodical and hassle-free. Each process should be published on the Notice Board of the society within ten days of displaying the final list of the voters.
 StepsRequirement
1Date of declaration of election programmeDate to be announced at the time of declaration of programme.
2Last date for making nominations5 days from the date of declaration of election programme.
4The date of publication of list of nominations receivedAs and when received till the last date fixed for making nominations.
4Date of scrutiny of nominations.Next day of the last date for making nominations
5Date of publication of list of valid nominations after scrutiny.Next day after the date of completion of scrutiny.
6Date by which candidature may be withdrawn.Within 15 days from the date of publication of list of valid nominations after scrutiny
7Date of publication of the final list of contesting candidates and allotment of election symbols.The day after the last day of fixed for withdrawal of candidature.
8Date and time during which and the place/ places at which the poll shall be taken if necessary.Not earlier than 7 days but not later than 15 days from the date of publication of the final list of contesting candidate (time and place to be fixed by the Returning Officer).
9Date, time and place for counting of votes.Not later than the third day from the date of which the poll shall be taken (Time and place to be fixed by the Returning Officer).
10Date of declaration of results of voting.Immediately after the counting of votes.
If the paid up share capital of the said society is more than Rs. 10, 000, the voting is conducted by secret ballot. At the time of the voting, each member is shown an empty ballot box before they cast their vote. The Ballot Paper usually has the seal of the society and the counterfoil the initials of the Returning Officer. The Ballot Box is sealed in front of the voters and all the documents/votes relevant to the Election are stored safely by the Secretary who is required to preserve them for three months and then destroy them afterwards. This is done in case of disputes. After the results, the current committee hands over the charge to the newly elected committee. In summary, timely execution of required procedures is quite essential to carry out an Election successfully. At each step of the way, the members need clarity and transparency from the elected members . At the same time, members need to be proactively involved in the election procedures as it is commonly observed in many housing societies that the same individuals are selected as office bearers in every term. This may lead to lethargy, inefficiency, or malfeasance in many cases.
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