Living in a Housing Society is a great way of making friends, is safe and there is a sense of community, bonding and family. But it is not always a walk in the park; it does have its ups and downs as well. There are many problems and issues that keep recurring, such as noisy neighbours, disposal of garbage, parking issues, a breakdown in the offering of amenities, water shortage and many more.
Most of the problems arise because there is a lack of clarity and communication between the Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) and their residents. Another reason could be because housing societies continue to do their tasks manually, they have not upgraded their systems and brought them up-to-speed and they are woefully out of touch with today’s reality. All this leads to inconsistency and errors.
What are the common problems faced by the residents of housing societies?
High Maintenance Charges
Every resident of a housing society has to pay a predetermined fee towards maintenance charges such as electricity, water, parking, maintenance of gardens and so on. However, it is noticed that some housing societies charge their residents arbitrarily just because they live in a bigger flat or because they have pets at home.
Every responsible RWA must lay out very clear, concise and transparent rules that constitute maintenance charges and communicate these to the current residents and to homeowners who are in the process of becoming residents in their housing society. RWAs should not change the rules at will. Every alteration to the rule should be immediately communicated to all the inmates so that there are no misunderstandings and doubts regarding unfair dealings. According to a recent intimation from the Finance Ministry, flat owners have to pay a GST of 18%, if their maintenance charges exceed Rs.7,500/- monthly.
RWAs cannot increase maintenance charges arbitrarily, but only according to the bye-laws set by the society. If a resident is unhappy with the RWA of his or her society, then a complaint can be filed in the District Consumer Forum, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) or the RERA of the state.
On their part, before buying an apartment, homeowners should go through the maintenance charges and find out how it is arrived at with a fine-tooth-comb, before signing any agreement, so that there are no surprises for them at a later stage. If there are any questions that they might have, it would be a good idea to get them all cleared at that point.
The problem of safety
One of the main reasons why people prefer to live in housing societies or gated communities is the sense of security and safety that they get. But not all societies are safe always. It is noticed that there are security lapses when outsiders can get in through the gates without proper scrutiny or check. There are outdated or non-working CCTV Cameras, ineffective security guards who do not maintain a tab on visitors and dimly lit common areas such as lifts, parking areas, corridors and staircases. This could give rise to vandalism, theft and encroachment.
To keep Housing Societies safe, RWAs must
· Hire security personnel from a reputed agency, who are dependable and who are also accountable for their actions
· Install CCTV Cameras in every corner of the property so that there is no unsafe spot that cannot be viewed on TV
· Have the security equipment upgraded and in working condition at all times. After all, residents are paying for these services and expect the best out of RWAs to keep them safe and secure
· Have Digital Ledgers maintained for all visitors, irrespective of whether they are daily, weekly or monthly guests. In a Housing Society called Esteem Classic in the Malleswaram-Rajajinagar area of Bangalore, every visitor’s mobile number is noted by the Security Guards at the entrance to the housing society and a message or a call is immediately made to the owner of the apartment, informing them about the arrival of the visitor
· Conduct emergency drills for all the residents and annual maintenance checks and audits for the security personnel
Shortage of Water
Water shortage is a problem that is being battled all over the country and it is not a housing society issue only. The perception is that there is water running continuously out of taps, 24x7, in housing societies and they do not face a shortage of water ever. This is so not true. Every resident in a housing society should be made responsible for using water judiciously.
What can RWAs do to arrest the depletion of water resources in their housing societies?
Neighbours that are irritants
Life in housing societies can get very irritating and annoying if neighbours play loud music and party late into the night or at odd hours, constantly argue and fight with other people and litter the premises all the time or children play noisily in the corridors. This kind of behaviour can be very troublesome especially if there are senior citizens or very young kids that you need to take care of in your home,
RWAs should clearly state the housing society rules to the residents who create trouble or are unruly. They should play peacemakers between the warring parties, play by the rules and make fair judgements at all times, without lending undue advantage to any one resident. If the offence by the neighbour is intolerable or is habitual, the troublemaker can be rebuked, penalised or even be evicted.
RWAs cannot bring peace into the life of residents if there is no cooperation from them. Residents and RWAs should work together to amicably solve problems without the local authorities intervening.
Green Clean India (www.greencleanindia.com) is an initiative to exhibit the collective power of Housing Societies, by providing a common platform across the country to interact and exchange thoughts that best suit community living. For details on how we can help you make lifestyle changes, do contact us at +919717938018 or write to us at email@example.com