Housing Society Problems & Solutions: Authorised Persons Who Can Attend Society Meetings
Shirish Shanbhag 15 March 2024
General body meetings (GBMs) are designed to consider all the activities that have happened in a cooperative housing society (CHS/Society) in a particular year. Such meetings, while helping to keep the members updated on all developments in the Society, also allow members to discuss and debate financial matters. 
 
Generally, only members of housing societies are allowed to attend such meetings, and relatives of the members may be allowed only if they have completed the formalities required to be considered associate members. This week, I will address some confusion over persons authorised to attend society meetings. I will also clarify a few doubts about the applicability of property tax.
 
Authorised Persons Who Can Attend Society Meetings
 
Question: There are a few cases in our Society where we are not sure about who is authorised to attend the Society meetings. We would greatly appreciate any clarification that you can provide. 
 
Case 1: Flat is owned by a sole owner, a member of the Society. If this owner is incapacitated or sick, is one of his family members allowed to attend the meeting in their absence? Is there any specific procedure for this? Alternatively, if the owner is incapacitated or sick, can one of his family members accompany them to the society meeting? 
 
Case 2: There are four joint owners of a flat, and all four are members of Society. Which member of the four members is allowed to attend the meeting? If two or more members wish to attend, is the same allowed? 
 
Case 3: Is a registered nominee of a flat allowed to attend the meeting accompanied by the member or attend solely without the member? 
 
Answer: I shall respond to and clarify your doubts regarding the order in which you have presented the cases. 
 
Case 1: A Society member who cannot attend the GBM can make one of his relatives, as defined in bye-law no. 3(xxv), an associate member, by filling the form as in Appendix-5 under bye-law no 19(b), and also filling form of Appendix-10A, under bye-law no.117(d), authorising this associate member to attend the Society's meetings in his stead. Furthermore, only the authorised associate member or the member can attend GBM, and neither can the other. 
 
Case 2: Under bye-law 19(a), only the first named buyer in a jointly owned flat can attend GBM of the Society. In such a jointly owned flat, if the first named owner cannot participate in the GBM of the Society, then under bye-law no. 117(d), second or any subsequent joint owner can attend. In this case, the first named owner should fill the form of Appendix-10A to authorise one of his joint owners as an associate member who can attend the GBM. For any one flat, only one member can attend the GBM.
 
Case 3: As I have mentioned, it is not possible for multiple people to attend the meeting. It can be only the member or an authorised associate member. A registered nominee, if he is a relative of the flat owner, as defined in bye-law no. 3(xxv), can attend the meetings as an associate member by filling forms of Appendix-5 and Appendix-10A.
 
Transferring Property Card and Tax Bill in the Name of Society
 
Question: I am staying in a cooperative housing society formed in 1976. The property card continues to remain in the name of the previous owner. The conveyance deed is in the name of the housing society and property tax is paid regularly to the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The name on the bills continues to come in the name of the previous property owner and 'care of' our Society. I am one of the foremost members of the Society and most of the old members are very senior citizens. Please let us know the procedure and documents required to get the property card in the name of our Society. 
 
Answer: With a copy of your conveyance deed, make an application (by your Society) at city survey office to change the property card in your Society's name. 
 
Once the property card is so duly transferred, your Society has to apply at city survey office, to get your Society's map, in which your Society building's outlines will be shown. With a copy of the property card and property map of your Society, you should apply  to the assistant collector and assessor, located in your municipal ward office, to change the property tax bill in the Society's name.
 
Further, with a copy of your Society's property tax bill, apply at the water department at the municipal ward office, to change the water bill in the Society's name.
 
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
 
Applicability of Property Tax
 
Question: BMC has abolished property tax (including water/sewerage/cess charges) for the fifth consecutive year for flats smaller than 500sqft. However, my Society still charges Rs494 per quarter (my flat is 415sqft carpet). Society says property tax is abolished, but that is not the case with water, sewage or cess charges. Request your clarification on this issue. 
 
Answer: Ask your Society to give a copy of the property tax bill of your Society.
 
Nowadays, property tax bills list flat-wise charges. The bill that comes in the name of the Society will also mention property tax on common areas of the Society, like the terrace, common corridor, and lift area, which the Society pays to the municipality.
 
If you do not get your individual flat's property tax bill and your Society gets a combined bill of all the flats in the Society, then in such a bill, individual flat's charges and common property tax charges, are clearly mentioned, providing a total property tax charge. 
 
If your Society is not willing to share a copy of its property tax bill, then you can go to your municipal ward office and meet the assistant assessor and collector, who will give you the details of your flat's bill. As you have mentioned, those flats that have less than 500 sqft in area should have no charges applied.
 
Once you are sure that the Society is illegally charging property tax to your flat, you can complain against this bill, to assistant assessor and collector in your municipal ward office.
 
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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