Most housing cooperative societies are a nuisance because it’s the lobby that rules. No one has a legal duty here or personal right to harass others. These committee positions are not given to them to rule but to execute the jobs. These members volunteer and take part in elections and obviously, they have their group backing and other people try to vote for a lesser evil. What everyone wants is a peaceful stay in their own abode. The case of harassment cannot be tolerated; it may become a ground for disciplinary action which may include expulsion. But the committee members generally use indirect methods to dominate residents.
For example, me and my friend who is also a female, are neighbours, we are single women. One of the society members rang my doorbell in the middle of the night and he was drunk. This was very scary, by the time I called my friend and alerted others he had just left the place. What if I would have opened the main door? Similarly, one drunk fellow from below her flat knocked on her door when she opened the door, he was in a rush to get in, but she smartly shouted at him and he realized his house is beneath her flat. Well, we made a complaint, and those days chairman was a lady of his gang. She checked the common camera of the lift and all and agreed that the man got out of the lift at late night hours but again the burden of proof was strapped to me to prove that a drunken man came to my house after he got out of the lift.
Well! both these men were from good families so somehow; we did not make an issue out of it. Since then, this alcoholic man has been avenging us. Unfortunately, he was holding a key position in the committee, and the groups got divided. The dogs started biting dogs. The earlier committee came on the radar of the new committee. There are legal issues, and the drama continued but the pain for us has not stopped yet. There is always noncooperation or overreactions. Fine I am strong enough to deal with my challenges, but imagine what must be the threat to single women residing in a housing society and particularly if she is not a member of any lobby or group. We feel unsafe and threatened. This is just an example, but imagine it from a larger perspective. Character assasination is another big issue.
If Any member of the Housing Cooperative Society faces the problem of harassment by any other member of society or the staff of the management committee in the housing cooperative society shall initiate the actions against them. If some people feel they are doing more than others, the impartiality is breached, and the negotiation starts again. Upholding fair-mindedness is the solution but that rarely happens.
Negotiating fairness is the hard part. Housing societies aren’t always the safe and trouble-free paradises we imagine them to be and do have their own share of woes and travesties, as does everything else in life.
Some problems have a way of appearing, reappearing, and recurrent in the life of an average housing society resident. Some of the problems faced by cooperative societies are loud neighbours, tyrant committee members, careless services, and irresponsible committees. The houses are leaking, and the corridors are spread with garage but maintenance lacks. But for every problem, there is a foolproof solution. There are predefined components for which the member has to pay maintenance charges, such as water, service, common electricity, etc. However, in many cases, it has been observed that the managing committee bills members randomly and illegally for surplus charges under false pretexts, such as charges for keeping pets, using elevators for transporting new furniture, etc.
While getting into an agreement with the developer, in spite of checking the calculation of maintenance charges, i.e equal distribution, per sq feet calculation or hybrid charge. In spite of having society’s model bye-laws to be aware of the components to be legally paid, you are not charged incorrectly, bring it to the notice of the managing committee immediately. In case if the MC refuses to cooperate, you have the right to file a complaint to the Registrar and finally to the District Collector and now the police station.
It is no secret that corruption runs rampant where power is centralized. In the case of the managing committee of housing societies, certain dishonest members or office bearers misappropriate funds for personal benefit and some committee members pay no heed to such malpractice. Incidents such as misappropriating society’s funds and showing falsified statements, charging members with unnecessary bills, writing off pending dues from certain members, stealing funds from redevelopment loans, bribing officials for fraudulent expenses, etc. are commonly registered as complaints.
In many cases, the managing committee charges massive non-occupancy charges from unsuspecting residents even when the apartment is occupied by a close relation or is locked. Fraudulent/Incomplete Audits: Some societies appoint morally dishonest Auditors who turn a blind eye to the misappropriation of funds by the managing committee, taking a cut from the funds. Even if the Auditor is honest in reviewing the finance, thousands of societies in Mumbai and other cities do not submit the audited accounts to the authorities, resulting in de-registration and penalties. Mismanagement of financial statements and cash books results in ineffective audits. Bad bookkeeping on behalf of the committee prevents the auditors as well as the residents from a clear and fair view of the society’s financial undertakings.
Check any complaint board websites of almost any state in the country, you will find members complaining about disruptive neighbours such as loud music at ungodly hours, blaring stereos in cars, littering society premises, throwing food scraps from the pantry, feeding birds in balconies, children and sometimes adults playing cricket and other sports extremely noisily after prescribed play hours in gardens, members getting in scuffles with watchmen and other staff, tenants or even homeowners behaving in unsavoury and disrespectful ways, smoking and drinking in society premises, among others. The list is seemingly endless and even renewed with new complaints describing strange and uncivilized behaviour by the residents. There are problems and there are solutions. Problems are inevitable and concrete, finding solutions is Hercule’s task.