Mantri stops paying EMIs, leaves buyers in distress

City

Flats supposed to be given in 2017, not delivered yet

Hundreds of buyers in the Mantri Webcity apartment project are in distress due to an alleged fraud by Mantri Developers.

Apartment buyer Syed Nabeel Ahmed informed The Observer: “In July 2014, I booked a 3-bedroom flat at Mantri Webcity. I paid Rs 17 lakh as down payment and took a home loan of Rs 68 lakh from PNBHFL (Punjab National Bank Housing Finance Ltd). Mantri stopped paying EMIs after January 2017. Since then, every month, I’m paying Rs 75,000 without any hope. My flat was supposed to be ready by March 2017. It is 2019, and there’s no progress yet.”

Sai Pramod, another customer and one of the RERA complainants, shared: “I pay Rs 70,000 monthly to the bank which Mantri Developers has to pay. Eight of us lodged a complaint against the firm at the Cubbon Park police station. It has been 90 days, but there’s no visible impact on Mantri.”

Another buyer and complainant, Jayapal Reddy, said: “Almost 400 customers come under this pre-EMI buyback scheme. Every one of them has been cheated. Some of them are fighting through FIRs, RERA, KAT (Kerala Administrative Tribunal), etc. But I don’t see any hope.”

Mantri Developers rejected The Observer’s request to interact with them.

“I had paid 85% of the amount as of 2015 and (am) waiting for my flat booked in November 2014. The promised date was 2017, but we get a new date every six months. There is minimum progress. At this rate, it will take another 5-7 years for completion,” said Vikas Chhatwal, a buyer who plans to file a RERA complaint.

The buyers complain they are unable to contact Mantri Developers. Their calls and emails are ignored. Company representatives refused to meet the buyers when they visited the head office at Vittal Mallya Road. Subsequently, they protested in front of the office.

In 2014, Mantri launched Mantri Webcity, located on Hennur Main Road. The buyers were supposed to make a down payment of 20% and the rest 80% through a bank loan. The firm clearly mentioned the loan should be availed only from Punjab National Bank (PNB).

One of their advertisements mentioned: “Double your investment in just 3 years. Assured 100% return. Invest Rs 12.5 lacs, take home Rs 25 lacs, in just 3 years.”

The first apartments were scheduled to be completed by 2015. However, even in 2019, there is not enough progress.

Webcity Apartments still under construction | Courtesy: Sai Pramod

The most attractive part of the offer was Mantri’s promise of paying back the EMIs to the buyers for first three years after receiving the down payment.

Several buyers alleged that the firm had paid the EMIs for the first few months. After that, there were delays in payment. Finally, they stopped paying EMIs. Since then, the buyers are paying the EMIs with no hope of getting their booked flats.

Mantri Developers filed a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court on August 5 in response to the FIRs lodged against them by the buyers.

B. Iyanna Reddy, inspector of the Cubbon Park police station, said: “So far, eight FIRs have been lodged against Mantri Developers. A notice has been issued to the accused. Now, they have filed a writ petition… appealing that this is a civil matter, and police should not be involved.”

The buyers also question the role of PNB. But the bank told them, as Pramod said, to continue paying to clear their loans: “We spoke to PNB. They said that they gave loan to the buyer based on his financial position, and they have nothing to do with what happens to the firm.”

According to the data on the RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Authority) Karnataka website, 93 complaints have been filed against Mantri Developers under Section 31 of the RERA Act.

Despite most of the judgments been awarded in favour of the buyers, it is alleged that Mantri is not following the orders.

A March 14, 2019, RERA judgment said: “The developer is hereby directed to return the own contribution amount Rs 41,04,365/- to the complainant together with the interest of 10.75% p.a with effect from April 2019 till the release of entire amount…The developer shall pay Rs 5,000/- as a cost of this petition.”

RERA officials turned down The Observer’s request for an interview.

Advocate Bojanna KJ, who fought for one of the buyers in RERA, informed The Observer: “When RERA passes an order favouring the home buyers then the buyers have the right to execute the order. The order is a decree passed by a civil court. The judgment file is carried to the district collector or deputy commissioner’s office, and a notice is sent to the builder. After that it is the builder’s responsibility to comply with the order, otherwise, the DC takes strict action against the builder.”

tamanna.y@iijnm.org

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