Builder can’t arbitrarily change Floor Plan of apartment – NCDRC orders DLF to refund

There have been cases where the homebuyers are shown a floor plan of their apartment that is unilaterally changed by the developer during the construction. At times, such arbitrary changes can leave a bitter taste as the changes may not be as per one’ likings.

Once such case is of DLF Garden City, Chennai where the developer without the buyer’s permission changed floor plan of the apartment. The Servent room that was initially shown in the floor plan was converted into a Study room with no access from outside of the flat. The super area of the apartment was also increased because of this change. Home buyer contested that he needed a house with servant room with a provision of outside access and the one offered by the developer is of no use to them. Above all, the apartment was delayed by more than 2 years. NCDRC ordered the refund of money at a rate of 10% per annum.

Case Study

Mr. Thangavel Palanivel purchased an apartment from DLF in DLF Garden City, Chennai. The apartments consist of 3 BHK + 3 Toilets and a Servant room. As per the design the apartment was to have two external doors, including an external door to the servant quarter. The buyer’s grievances are that not only the developer delayed the possession of the apartment, they arbitrarily changed the design of the apartment and converted the Servant room into a Study room. They also removed the outside access to the room and new design had only main external door.

The developer just sent an email which says that based on feedback from the customers, they had redesigned the apartment thereby increasing the size of the servant room and converting the same to a study room with the door entry from inside the Apartment, as a result of which the saleable area had increased to 2064 sq. ft.

The buyer, however, protested against the said change and design by way of email and clearly stated that they wanted the apartment as per the floor plan attached to the Buyers Agreement and will not accept any change.

Developer’s defense 

Relying upon Clause 9, 10 and 35 of the Buyers Agreement, the design of the flat could be changed by the developer even without the consent of the buyers and they had no option but to accept the changed design, even if it was not to their liking.

Court’s observations

The question which arises for consideration, in this case, is as to whether the buyers were justified in refusing possession of the flat on the ground that the developers had unilaterally changed its design resulting in the removal of the external entrance to the servant room.  Obviously, the buyers, for security reasons or otherwise, did not want the servant to access the flat through the main entrance.  The servant also would not have his own privacy if he does not have an independent entrance to us quarter.  Even thereafter, the buyers were time and again impressing upon the developer not to change the design of the flat booked by them.  On 04.2.2013, one of the buyers met Mr. Surender, an officer of the developer, who according to the buyers, assured to make arrangements to fix the external door to the servant room / study room as per the original design and deliver possession by 2013.  That admittedly was not done.

In my view, since the developer committed default in performing its contractual obligation, by failing to offer possession of the flat to the buyers on or before the date committed in the Buyers Agreement, the buyers cannot be compelled to accept the possession of the said flat at this belated stage.  In the facts and circumstances of the case, including the fact that neither the possession as offered by the committed date nor did the developer provide an independent entrance to the servant room, despite having promised to do so, the buyers are entitled to insist upon refund of the amount paid by them to the developer , along with appropriate compensation in the form of interest on that amount.

I have no hesitation in reiterating that the compensation which the builder has to pay to the buyers in such cases cannot be restricted to the compensation stipulated in the wholly one side Buyers Agreement and has to be based upon the loss suffered by the consumer on account of deficiency in the services rendered to him.

The Order

For the reasons stated hereinabove, considering the cost of finance during the relevant period, the opposite party is directed to refund the entire amount paid to it by the buyers, along with compensation in the form of simple interest @ 10% per annum on the aforesaid amount from the date of each payment, till the date, the entire amount, along with compensation in terms of this order is refunded to the buyers.  The developer shall also pay a sum of Rs.10,000/- as the cost of litigation to the buyers.

CONSUMER CASE NO. 304 OF 2015


Conclusion

If you are also a victim of a similar situation wherein the developer for their own profit changed the design of apartment which doesn’t suit you, you can refer to this judgement and seek justice.

Even if you don’t want the refund of money, buyers can approach NCDRC to seek rectification of such issues which developers blatantly refuse.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.