A housing society is one in which the ownership of the flats lies with an entity or an organisation, and then sold as shares to the residents. While there are several benefits to residing in a housing society there are also several challenges.
A home is the closest place to one’s heart and it is only natural that people think quite a lot before buying one and making it their own. With the change in time, people now want homes in spaces that offer them the maximum benefits. That is one pivotal reason why cooperative housing societies have become the hot favorite for everyone. Additionally, it is economical to purchase a house in the cooperative housing society as it offers an affordable down payment scheme with longer mortgage terms. Other obligations such as maintenance charges, repairs, electricity, water, insurance, etc are equally shared by the members. In a housing society, the members are required to follow the respective society’s rules, regulations, and norms.
Although a housing society was established to solve disputes between the members of a society, it was not all that attainable. There are several instances wherein differences of opinion arise between the managing committee and the members. The lack of proper guidelines and governance has paved the way for these issues to prolong endlessly although there are chances of getting them sorted.
There are several challenges and responsibilities that have to be met in order to maintain decorum in a housing society as listed below:
Co-operative housing societies predominantly function within the framework of model bye-laws. These guidelines prescribe a number of rules and procedures for various aspects that govern the day-to-day activities of the housing societies, including the elections. Once the society registration online or offline is done, the Chief Promoter is mandated to announce the First General Body Meeting of the society within three months from the date of registration. One of the priorities of the meeting is to discuss the election. Until the date of the election, a Provisional Committee will be constituted as delineated by the bye-laws of the Society. The Elections within a cooperative housing society will be held once in five years as per the Bye-Laws. The office bearers and other representatives are chosen by the members through a fair election process. Societies have various voting systems such as tower-wise voting, voting on panels, and specific post-election or full committee elections. It is pertinent to note that the housing society has to conduct an election every five years, failing which every member of the society has the inherent right to demand the election. In case of refusal to initiate an election, the members have all the right to initiate a formal complaint. If there should be any issue with the committee or the election process, then the fastest remedy a person can avail is through the initiation of a complaint to the deputy registrar.
Maintenance of Co-operative Housing Societies:
A housing society comprises a large number of families co-existing together and hence maintaining the premises is quite challenging. The maintenance charges are levied which is to be deposited by the members. Most societies impose an exorbitant price for maintenance. When the charges are inexplicably high it would only stir bitterness among the members. To solve this issue the society must follow basic rules like transparency and communication. Meetings must be held at regular intervals to fix the maintenance charges. The committee must duly submit the accounts and make them accessible to the members of the society. Various types of charges are included in the maintenance charges such as:
Charges for various operations such as maintaining the lifts, gardens, salary for watchmen, etc are spent using the maintenance charges deposited by the members
These charges are applicable to those who own vehicles and rates are fixed by the society and vary for two-wheelers, four-wheelers, and open and closed parking
Applicable for all residents and the charges are based on the total number and size of inlets provided in each flat
A fixed charge must be deposited by the owners who have left their flats unoccupied. However, these charges should not be more than 10% of the service charges
Lease and Rental Charges
Based on the built-up area of the flats, a specific amount is deposited if the flats are rented or leased out.
Parking Space in Housing Societies
One of the primary amenities owners look out for before deciding on a residential space is the parking amenities within the housing society. The committee must ensure uniform parking bye-laws thereby curtailing the unequal treatment of the residents. They should devise strategies to prevent unofficial parking and regulate guest parking spaces. For instance, if the husband gets a paid parking allocated for him and when the wife purchases a new car, she cannot fit her new vehicle along with her husband’s car. Ideally, the latter should opt for a separate paid parking space.
Simply put, even if the parking space is big enough to accommodate another vehicle, it shall not be done without the permission of the managing committee. Likewise, the guests of the residents should also park their vehicles in the space allocated for guest parking. Alternatively, the security guards often do not allow guest vehicles even if there is a dedicated parking space available for the guests. Such unwanted micromanagement will result in disappointment and frustration among the residents. Under such circumstances, the residents can escalate the issue to the management.
Security Neglect Issues
One predominant reason why a housing society is preferred off late is the hope that a closely knit society with exceptional security arrangements, could give one a promising life with peace and harmony. But whether it is really being implemented in housing societies is something highly debatable. When communities go light-headed on security arrangements, the residents will suffer severe losses. The Society must be upgraded to meet various security emergencies and should have the security apparatuses replaced as and when required. CCTVs must be promptly installed and serviced at regular intervals mandatorily.
Illegal Construction Issues
Illegal construction or encroaching on public property is a huge challenge faced by members of housing societies. Alternatively, even members of the society park their cars in vacant spots available outside the premises, turning it into their private parking area which is illegal.
This can be prevented by informing the individual who is violating the space and educating them about the laws available. The managing committee should be involved in such circumstances so as to ensure that the encroaching of space is immediately curtailed.
Water Shortage Issues
Water shortage is not a new age problem in urban cities in India. Although the housing societies advertise saying they provide 24×7 uninterrupted water supply, seldom is it true. When there is a restricted water supply, the residents tend to fix their own water tanks to store water. However, the rule of the society approves only specific-sized tanks to prevent excessive hoarding.
There are instances where the society cuts off the water supply at times without informing the members in advance. This happens when the residents have overhead tanks and the society manages the water supply. At times, the water supplied is unhygienic or there might be water leakage due to poor maintenance. During these situations, the residents must remember that the societies are equipped with underground water storage facilities. If the society refuses to provide adequate water, the residents shall approach the municipal authorities or take the issue to the Court. They shall do the same when society provides an unequal distribution of water. The municipality should further be prompt in fixing the leaking water pipes. Also, it should make sure that the residents get access to clean and potable water.
The list mentioned above is not complete and is only inclusive of several other challenges. Housing societies look quite attractive from afar. But there are several challenges in living inside one. However, with the help and planning of the committee members, most of the issues could be sorted out. The residents can also raise their complaints through appropriate forums within the community and if not addressed can head out to police stations, consumer courts, or cooperative courts in their jurisdiction.
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