The Maharashtra Apartment Ownership Act, 1970 (“Act”) was adopted, as per its objects clause, to provide a framework of legislative rights to apartment owners in the form of ownership, inheritance and transferability rights. The Act also mitigates the common expenses that may arise from residing in an apartment complex by legalizing the creation of an Association of Apartment Owners (“Association”).
A bare perusal of the legislation however reveals that there is no specific forum provided for in case of any dispute arising between the Association and the apartment owner or with any statutory authority and such a party defined in the Act.
The lack of a designated forum within the legislation itself is what the Maharashtra Apartment Ownership (Amendment) Act, 2020 (“Amendment”) seeks to rectify by inserting Section 16A and 16B in the Act. These two sections designate the Registrar of Co-operative Societies as the statutory authority for filing any complaints of non-compliance with any provisions of the Act, thus acting as the first forum for any dispute between sole-owners or any members of the Association. A period of 30 days from the time of receipt is prescribed for the resolution of complaints received by the Registrar. The Amendment also prescribes, through Section 16B, an appeal mechanism by enabling the aggrieved party to approach the Co-operative Court by designating it as the appellate authority for such disputes.
The Amendment also gives power to the Association to amend the Declaration or Deed of Apartments through a special meeting, with the consent of the majority of all the members of the Association. The Amendment, therefore, offers two important clarifications that not only make internal regulation of the Association easier but it also offers a streamlined and designated method of dispute resolution.