Sixteen families living on pagdi in Ram Niwas Building in Malad West vacated their homes for redevelopment in November 2009, but nine years later, their developer, who is also the landlord, hasn’t constructed anything in the plot and has stopped paying the transit rent since December 2017.
The tenants had filed a suit against the developer MP Corporation in the City Civil Court at Dindoshi in 2013 after seeing that the developer hadn’t started construction. MP Corporation, a part of Maitri Group of companies, then had Apurva Shah, Jayesh Parikh and Rajendra Goradia as partners.
But, five years later, the plot on Ramchandra Lane in Malad is empty and has been taken over by wild vegetation. While the suit is pending, the tenants have now submitted a fresh complaint to the Economic Offences Wing against the developer Apurva Shah under IPC sections for cheating, criminal breach of trust, criminal conspiracy, and Section 3 and 13 of Maharashtra Ownership of Flats Act (MOFA).
“Our building was more than 50 years old and therefore when MP Corporation approached us to redevelop it on ownership basis, we agreed and signed the agreements under MOFA. We were promised possession in 24 months with grace period of six months, but its July 2018 and not a brick laid here,” says Ravi Gorakh, one of the tenants.
Ram Niwas building had 23 flats out which MP Corporation owns seven, while five other tenants haven’t yet joined the tenants’ collective struggle to get their rightful homes. According to the agreements. the developer had planned to build a seven–storey structure.
“When we vacated our homes, we were given 12 months of transit rent, brokerage for the rented property, and transportation charges when we moved to a leave and licence home.
But, after that brokerage and transportation charges has never been paid. How long should we suffer like this?,” asks Devank Shah, another tenant, pointing out that rents have now climbed to Rs 18000 per month in the vicinity of Malad.
Women in the families pointed out that moving their homes every 11 months have taken a toll on them. “We have to hunt for a rented place near our children’s schools, and rent in these areas is often steeper. The developer promised to increase rent 10 per cent every year, but had increased only 3 times till now, and now he has stopped paying completely,” said one of the women who gathered at the site.
Gorakh said the developer has also taken over the adjoining building, Kamal Kunj and had discussed the possibility of redeveloping a combined property. “We are ready for that also. But, other tenants are watching what’s happened with our building, and they find it risky to vacate without proper agreements. We hope that the government takes cognizance of such redevelopment projects and helps us,” he says.
Another tenant Jatin Shah said “When he was giving us delayed rent cheques, they would bounce at least twice. Even to get our legitimate rent, we had to pay Rs 250 every time the cheque returned. We were also promised a bank guarantee of Rs three lakh in our agreements, but we have not been paid that either,” he said.
Their advocate Tushar Gujjar of law firm Solicis Lex said fed up of this situation, the tenants had made an application last week to allow them to file a fresh suit for completion of project and compensation before the Bombay High Court, but Additional Sessions Judge SU Baghele rejected their application.
Apurva Shah, who is a partner in MP Corporation and claims to be founder of Maitri Group, said, “This matter is one between the landlord and the tenants and is presently subjudice. No injustice has been done to the tenants. I am out of town, and can speak only after my return on Tuesday.” Despite repeated requests to respond, he refused to comment further.