Housing Society Problems & Solutions: Becoming an Associate Member; Dividing Common Expenses amongst Residents
Shirish Shanbhag 08 February 2024
An associate member has similar rights in a cooperative housing society (CHS/Society) as the original member, but there are a few exceptions, and written consent of the original member may be required for certain actions. Essentially, an associate member is a person duly admitted to membership of the Society on written recommendation of the original member to exercise their rights and duties with prior consent. 
 
This week, I will explain the process of becoming an associate member. I will also clarify how common expenses incurred by the Society are to be distributed amongst residents, whether they are to be calculated based on the area of the flat or charged equally irrespective of the area. Finally, I will provide a solution to a problem where a tenement owner is attempting to sell a portion of encroached land originally owned by the Society.  
 
Becoming an Associate Member 
 
Question: Our flat is in the sole name of my husband. Can I, as his wife, become an associate member of our Society? If so, what would be the process? The managing committee insists that only joint or co-owners can become associate members.
 
Answer: As a wife, you can become an associate member by filling out the form in appendix-5 as given in the Society's bye-laws book of the year 2014. Since your name is not there in the sale deed of the flat, just by becoming an associate member, you will not become a joint owner of the flat. 
 
To become a joint owner, your husband should gift 50% of the value of the flat to you by doing a gift deed. When you submit the copy of such a gift deed and its index-2, along with the form in appendix-5 to the Society, you will be considered a co-member and co-owner of the said flat. This will also ensure that your name is written on the share certificate of the flat. 
 
The only difference in the above two processes is that if you fill out the associate membership form (without your name in the agreement of the flat or without doing a gift deed), then your name is not written in the share certificate. You will only receive a letter on the Society's letterhead that you are an associate member of your husband's flat. 
 
Sharing Expenses for Common Maintenance-related Work in Society
 
Question: Our Society has incurred expenses for the installation of CCTV, the purchase of a fan, water pump, and chairs and for setting up the Society office on the building's ground floor. This has been charged equally amongst all members, irrespective of whether they reside in 1 BHK or 2 BHK flats. Further, the managing committee plans to plaster and paint the entire building, fix broken floor tiles, and renovate the water storage tanks. The committee has proposed to allocate all such renovation expenses equally amongst all residents. Please advise whether the Society has followed the correct process. 
 
Answer: Your Society has correctly charged the expenses for the installation of CCTV, purchase of fan, water pump, chairs and for construction of the society office, irrespective of the area of the flat, as mentioned under bye-law no. 66 of the model cooperative housing society bye-laws. Such charges have to be charged equally amongst all members, without considering the area of the flat.
 
Further, for the proposed repair work, as mentioned in your query, it has to be carried out within the repairs and maintenance fund which is collected as a percentage of your regular maintenance bill. In case the expenses are projected to be beyond the limit of the repair fund, a general body meeting should be held and tenders should be invited for the work. 
 
NOTE
We will not be answering queries posted in the comments. Only questions sent through the Moneylife Foundation's Legal Helpline will be answered. If you want to seek guidance or ask questions to Mr Shanbhag, kindly send it through Moneylife Foundation's Free Legal Helpline. Here is the link: https://www.moneylife.in/lrc.html#ask-question
 
Video Recording Society Meetings
 
Question: During our Society's annual general meeting (AGM), one member started to slander, verbally abuse and fight with the managing committee. I recorded the conflict on my mobile phone, as the same person had insulted me as well. Please clarify whether recording a video during the Society's AGM is legal. 
 
Answer: It is not illegal to record the proceedings of the Society's meeting on video. However, if there has been any physical abuse, the victim should first get a medical certificate from a government or municipal hospital and, with such a certificate, file a complaint with the local police. Ensure that the police take due cognisance and file a first information report (FIR) which should result in the culprit being jailed for the offence and only released with a court order. 
 
Illegal Sale of Encroached Property
 
Question: A tenement-holder had purchased a property which has encroached on the land of the Society. Now, the tenement is reselling his property and wants us to permit him to sell the encroached area as his own. Please advise how we can resolve this.
 
Answer: It is not clear from your query whether the tenement-holder has a flat fully built on encroached land or if the flat has encroached on some portion, such as a balcony with a few square feet (sqft) extending into the Society's land.
 
Only when the portion that has encroached on the Society's land is removed can the Society allow the member to sell the flat. Even if such a flat is sold without removing the encroachment, the Society should not transfer the share certificate in the name of the buyer, unless that encroachment on the Society's space is removed. 
 
The Society can then write a complaint against such a flat-owner in the municipal ward office to demolish the encroached part of that flat on Society's land.
 
Disclaimer: The guidance provided in these columns and on our Legal Helpline is on the sole basis of the facts provided by the reader/questioner and does not amount to formal legal advice in any form whatsoever. 
 
(Shirish Shanbhag has an MSc in Organic Chemistry, a Diploma in Higher Education, and a Diploma in French and has completed his LL.B. in first class in 2021. Before his retirement, he was a junior college teacher at Patkar College from July 1980 to May 2012, teaching theoretical and practical chemistry. Post-retirement in 2012, he started providing guidance and counselling to people on several issues, specifically focusing on cooperative housing society-related matters. He has over 30 years of hands-on experience in all matters about housing societies and can provide out-of-box solutions for any practical issue.)
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