In an unregulated market where buyers do not really have a choice to negotiate with builders, the Bombay High Court has taken serious cognisance of a letter alleging illegal activities by builders in the city and converted it into a public interest litigation, according to this Times of India report.
Citing a sting operation by a TV channel, Thane-resident Vikrant Karnik in a letter to the Chief Justicle of the Bombay High Court had accused eight leading builders in Mumbai and Thane of cheating apartment buyers by overcharging loading of up to 45 percent over and above the carpet area and expanding the flats to their 'super built-up' capacity.
"I obtained the CD of the sting operation from the TV channel and forwarded it to the HC along with my letter. I elaborated on the illegal acts of the builders, who sell flats on the basis of the super built-up area and demand upwards of Rs 5 lakh for a parking slot in the compound. All this is leading to corruption in public life and exploitation of the common man," Karnik is quoted as saying in the Times of India report.
According to MCHI's own code of conduct, a builder should disclose the carpet area to the flat buyer. The carpet area is confined to the four walls of a house or habitable area. Everything outside, such as balcony, terrace deck, passageway, flower beds, lift area, entrance lobby, clubhouse and in some cases even open spaces, is now included in the super built-up or the useable area.
This extended area does not figure on paper, since the developers are committed to mentioning only the net carpet area in the agreement for sale.
However, Karnik's letter stated that the FSI provided for ducts and flower beds is illegally incorporated into the flat area by builders. Also builders force buyers to pay for the difference between super-built up and built-up area in black, along with illegal charges for parking facilities.
Yet, due to the increase in super-built up area, the cost of properties has also doubled over a period of time. Consumers are getting lesser space at a higher cost.
Hence, many builders might advertise that the flat on sale is of 1,000 sq ft. But beware: It includes areas like staircases, passages and lifts and so on. Hence, it's important you know how much the usable/carpet area is. The carpet area is the actual usable area. The difference between super built-up and carpet area is called loading. As a rule of thumb, this difference should not exceed 30 percent. ( Check out this graphic to understand loading in detail)
Watch the sting operation by Bloomberg on carpet and super-built up area below