Housing Society Problems & Solutions: Vendor Quotations for CCTV Installation; Rights of a Power of Attorney-holder
Shirish Shanbhag 12 January 2024
Each week, I spend some time unravelling the complexities and intricacies that often accompany life within cooperative housing societies (CHS). By answering your pertinent questions, I have attempted to provide clarity on a variety of issues, such as nuances of parking policies, election procedures, permissible activities within your Society and the rules that govern the transfer of property to a nominee or legal heir. 
 
This week, I will address the problem of selecting a vendor to install CCTV cameras in a housing society. The process I have detailed below is standard and should be followed for any other service or activity that the Society undertakes from an external third-party organisation. I will also clarify the rights of a power of attorney (POA)-holder within a housing society and how such a holder can become a member of the Society. 
 
Selecting a Vendor for CCTV Installation in Society
 
Question: The chairman of our Society wanted to install CCTV cameras in our Society. He, therefore, proceeded to search for and select a CCTV vendor by himself. We suspect that he has done so to support a business or a friend that he knows on a personal basis. Would this not be regarded as a 'conflict of interest'? How should this be rectified?
 
Answer: Ideally, the Society should get sealed quotations from at least three separate CCTV vendors. Their individual quotations should then be opened in the special general body meeting (SGBM) of the Society. Each CCTV vendor should also provide at least three references where they have installed and maintained CCTVs for a minimum period of two years.
 
If the process as above has been followed, then your Society should do so by calling for quotations from three vendors after discussion in a general body meeting. The final selection of a vendor should be done in the meeting after a majority of members approve. 
 
Denial of Parking for Tenants
 
Question: At a recent annual general meeting (AGM), it has been decided that tenants will not be allowed parking for four-wheelers. This decision has been taken to increase space for other resident members because there is no place for children to play. The tenants are senior citizens and are paying parking as well as non-occupation charges. Please advise whether this is a legally correct decision. 
 
Answer: If tenants are asked to pay parking charges, then they should be allowed to park inside the Society's premises. Alternatively, if they are not provided with parking space, they should be exempted from paying parking charges. 
 
In the first case, if tenants are being asked to pay parking charges without allowing them to park their vehicle within the Society's premises, then under bye-law no. 174(B)(iv), the flat-owners can make a complaint against the Society in a cooperative court. 
 
To present the case in cooperative court and further argue it, the flat-owner should take help of an advocate.
 
Rights of a Power of Attorney-Holder in a Housing Society
 
Question: Can a general POA-holder interfere in the managing committee's activities? Can they attend Society meetings and sign in the official register? In our Society, a POA-holder is behaving like an owner of the flat and we do not want to encourage such behaviour. Please advise.
 
Answer: A POA-holder cannot attend the Society's general body meeting (GBM). A person should be either a member or co-member if he is a co-buyer or joint buyer of the flat.
 
A co-buyer of the flat can become a co-member after he fills out the form as given in appendix-5 in the bye-laws book of the Society. Once he gets the no objection certificate (NOC) from the first-named buyer, by filling the form in appendix-10A, he can attend GBM or SGM (special general meeting) of the Society.
 
If the flat is singly bought, then the buyer's relative, as defined in bye-law no. 3(xxv), can fill the form of appendix-5 to become an associate member, and the original member can give his associate member his NOC by filling form in appendix-10A to attend meetings of the Society on behalf of the member or shareholder of the Society.
 
A POA-holder is not allowed to attend any meeting on behalf of a member or shareholder. 
 
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
 
Conducting Elections after Managing Committee Resigns
 
Question: In our cooperative housing society, the entire managing committee has resigned. As per bye laws 131(e), in such a situation, the deputy registrar of cooperative societies has to be intimated within a given period. However, our Society has not done so and has instead announced the election. Please advise whether the correct process has been followed and if we need to take corrective action. 
 
Answer: Under bye-law no. 131(e), after the managing committee has resigned, it should inform the deputy registrar of cooperative societies so that a government-registered election officer can be appointed to conduct the election of your Society. After that, an election officer will come to your Society and announce the election schedule and programme. 
 
If this has not been done by the committee, which has resigned, then you can make a complaint against the Society to the deputy registrar of cooperative societies, as they have announced an election without appointing an election officer.
 
Whether Tuition Classes Can be Considered a Commercial Activity
 
Question: Is a tuition class a commercial activity? Is there any problem in allowing a tuition class in our Society?
 
Answer: A tuition class, if it is not making too much noise or nuisance with large crowds in the Society's premises, can be allowed. However, you cannot convert a flat into a classroom by placing desks inside rooms to operate the tuition classes.
 
For a tuition class, few students (perhaps in batches of 10 at a time) can be allowed to attend. But care should be taken to ensure that the students do not create noise or nuisance inside the premises of the Society. 
 
Further, if the students are using the lift, then the Society can charge additional maintenance charges to the respective flat hosting the tuition classes. 
 
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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