Act together. The problems of defrauded co-investors should be resolved jointly

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Quite often there are reports in the press about new cases of bankruptcy of developers and people without shelter. Who should help them?

New cases of bankruptcies of large developers exposed the old problem of defrauded co-investors. Throughout Russia there are about 2000 unfinished. For dry figures – the fate of nearly a million ordinary citizens who, for the sake of housewarming in a new building, spent all their savings, sold only housing, took mortgages, used maternity capital, and now for years and even decades wait for the promised apartments. For a long time, official statistics on long-term construction, formed by regional authorities, did not reflect the real situation. But a year ago the State Duma attracted to the solution of the problem themselves deceived co-investors. Immediately after a many-hour meeting, an inter-factional working group was set up to protect the rights of participants in shared construction. “We specifically asked to make it inter-factional, so that no one would have a desire to use co-investors as a political mass, because we are fundamentally outside politics and are fighting only for their rights to housing, “says the coordinator of the initiative groups of co-investors of Russia and a member of the working group in the State Duma, Laura Mitt. About how today the solution of this problem is being promoted, she told AiF.ru.

– Laura, tell us, what changes have taken place in the solution of the problem of citizens affected by the actions of unscrupulous developers this year?

– Laura Mitt : During this time, many important laws were adopted, which now help us a lot. For example, since July 1 of this year, all deceived interest holders have been granted the right to use the funds of the Fund for the Protection of Citizens’ Rights – Participants in Shared Construction [DOM.RF]. Initially, it was implied that the Fund would protect only those equity holders for which the developers began to transfer funds to the Fund from October 20, 2017.

On August 3, President Vladimir Putin signed Law No. 339-FZ regulating the problem of self-construction. Now this law protects homeowners in apartment buildings that were built on land allocated for the construction of individual houses. In Sochi there are about 200 such objects, this is 80% of the total. With this problem, we went to the State Duma’s Committee on Security and Anti-Corruption, with whom we are also working very hard (Anatoly Vyborny, deputy chairman of the committee, is part of our inter-factional working group), and the deputies worked on this issue to solve an acute social problem.

Nikolay Nikolaev, the head of our working group and the head of the State Duma Committee on Natural Resources, Property and Land Relations, in general implemented a project of extraordinary importance – an interactive map, which includes all the construction sites of our country. It is available on the DOM.RF website. We also provided information for this card. Long-standing on it are marked in red. We asked for each house to make an object card so that the construction companies, we call them “developers-rescuers”, immediately could understand for themselves the economics of the project.

In addition, laws have been adopted that toughen the responsibility of regional authorities for failing to provide or distorting the data that they submit for making objects on an interactive map. It is attached to our road map, which must be executed. Otherwise, the regional authorities risk violating the orders of the president number 1520 and №1329, which oblige them to solve the issues of defrauded co-investors, as well as inform us about the implementation of road maps. These instructions imply the personal responsibility of the governors for completing the facilities.

– Perhaps, the biggest problematic objects are located in the Moscow region – the LCD “Tsaritsyno” and the Urban Group. The authorities of Moscow and the Moscow region have resolutely stated that they will finish building them. This means that interest holders of these facilities can no longer worry about the future of their apartments?

– Indeed, the state quickly enough solves issues with the completion of these facilities. But even here, equity holders face certain difficulties that require a decision in the manual mode. So, in LCD “Tsaritsyno” there is a separate 35th building, in which only apartments were sold. In fact, these are non-residential premises, but in the equity agreement it is written that they are intended for living. These are small apartments of 20 square meters, quite affordable, which were bought mostly by young families or elderly people. However, according to the law, the share holders of the apartments can not claim square meters in bankruptcy, and can only be included in the register of monetary claims, payments for which they are most likely not to receive. Last year, at a meeting with Sergei Sobyanin, I told them that people could lose their homes, and there are young families who will have to repay mortgages for another 10 years. And the mayor immediately, at the same meeting, instructed the construction complex of Moscow to transfer these apartments to the status of living quarters. This is a total of 195 contracts of four thousand co-investors “Tsaritsyno.” Only the instructions of the mayor of Moscow and the instructions of the president are not in a hurry to execute.

As for the Urban group, there the road map appeared very quickly, because this is the first object that took under its patronage the Fund for the Protection of the Rights of Co-investors. As soon as it became clear that the developer could not continue construction, the Fund itself initiated its bankruptcy. However, here again there were problems on two sites – “Laikovo” and “Lesoberezhny”, which were not going to be completed. But now we are sure that all Urban group objects will be built.

Another problem that exists both in Tsaritsyno, in the Urban group, and in other large objects: according to the law on shared construction, the developer builds the infrastructure at his own expense and has no right to spend the money of co-investors, so the state does not have to allocate for this facilities. But in the case of the Urban group, for example, there were such modern and convenient infrastructure projects that people chose the developer for this reason. And after a series of protest actions, the MO government decided that people would get what they paid for.

– You keep talking about the fact that you will work to ensure that the housing has been completed. Sometimes the option of paying compensation is discussed, how do you feel about it?

– Personally, I see no reason to receive compensation or insurance payment, you need to do everything to get an apartment in the completed object.

“Even if you wait long for the apartment?”

– Yes, and I’ll tell you why. First, monetary compensation reimburses exactly the amount of the value of the apartment, which was at the time when the interest holder paid it. For early contracts it is generally unprofitable – this money has long been depreciated. Yes, and new interest holders will lose significantly in the price – the dollar is growing, from the autumn they predict an increase in the price per square meter by 15-30%, and after July 1, 2019 the price may still grow, because part of the developers will leave the market due to tightening regulation on amendments to 218-FZ. Why should we take today a depreciated amount, if tomorrow or the day after tomorrow we will be able to get our apartment, the more paid interest on the mortgage money compensation does not cover.

Secondly, taking insurance can be dangerous, a lot of pitfalls. The insured event does not apply to willful bankruptcy, and in almost 99% of cases of bankruptcies developers are being prosecuted for fraud. It turns out, if the developer is convicted under a criminal article, the insurer will have to ask for money back. There is no current practice, it is unclear how such situations will be resolved.

Pay attention – who is pushing us to apply for insurance payments? Officials who do not want to carry out the president’s orders to solve the problems of co-investors, but prefer to shift their responsibility to other people’s shoulders. As a result, the shareholder went to them on the occasion and, not only that he lost his housing, he also ceased to be deceived as an interest-bearer. Because when we get monetary compensation, we transfer our contract to an insurance company, and already it becomes an interest-holder, it’s impossible to regain an apartment.

In addition, the insurance mechanism was also illogical. The same example of LC “Tsaritsyno” – there are interest holders, both with insurance, and those that concluded DDU before the introduction of insurance. But the object is one. And again, the problems of unfinished business creep out: even if they pay part of the money to co-investors, the state will not solve this problem – the other part will remain without apartments, and without money, and again will come out with protests on the streets.

– You are also a deceived interest-bearer. How many years have you been waiting for your home?

– Four years, as our developer – the company JSC “USC” – ceased construction. A shareholder LCD “Academ Palace” in Moscow was another 9 years ago. Then I sold a single dwelling and invested all the money in building two apartments to live with my daughter separately, but on the same staircase. In connection with the fact that in our facility the first 4 floors belong to the Russian Federation, the government of the Russian Federation took control of the completion of our house.

People wait and longer. There is such a thing as “old-timer”. They invested in construction 15-20 years ago. In Moscow, there are 8 such facilities – about 300 people. These are houses that will never be completed. On this situation, I also reported to Sergei Sobyanin, and he immediately ordered to allocate these people apartments from the city’s fund. But the struggle of these people for obtaining the keys has not yet ended. Some regions that have free housing funds have already solved this problem.

– Can we say that now the problem of defrauded co-investors has been resolved more effectively?

– Yes. And this is due to the fact that all this year the activities of regional authorities in this direction are under close surveillance. We are not only supported by the State Duma, we are also supported by law enforcement agencies. So, Alexander Bastrykin personally takes interest holders, Yuri Chaika goes with checks to the regions: the Far East, Siberia, the Southern Federal District. And Deputy General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation Andrey Kikotyu are grateful to all holders of the Southern Federal District, where he brings order.

In general, everything depends on the person who heads the region. For example, there is a young governor Andrei Klychkov in the Orel region. Only with his arrival in the region the problem was resolved. He and before his appointment dealt with the problems of defrauded co-investors and the solution of this problem for him is of enormous importance. Klychkov was approached by Governor of the neighboring Nizhny Novgorod region Gleb Nikitin, also a new and young, who inherited a huge army of co-investors. And now Nizhny Novgorod is in the forefront. Tyumen – there Vladimir Yakushev practically solved the issue with defrauded co-investors and … flew to Moscow to finish building the whole country – now he is the head of the Ministry of Construction of Russia. As you can see, you can not be afraid to act and not wait for decrees. But the responsibility for their failure to be afraid is necessary.

– How do you see the role of society in solving the problem of co-investors?

– We need to unite and act together – society, officials, developers. Already now, interest holders of new facilities, which do not yet have any problems, create forums, exchange information in chat rooms. And in this way they carry out the same public control to which our citizens, our president calls us. Or how the business operates. For all the recent meetings of the working group, including on the site of the committee of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation on business security under the chairmanship of Anatoly Vyborny, we invite developers, banks, and insurance companies. Together we are trying to help builders to get preferences for completing problematic objects, we are making proposals on changing the legislation so that the Central Bank allows insurance companies to use the means of insurance reserves, to complete problematic objects. And in the country there are already examples: in Mordovia, Veliky Novgorod, Irkutsk region, in other regions, when with the involvement of insurance companies they built houses.

We place great hopes on the means of the SRO, bill No. 513907-7 was introduced by State Duma deputy Yuri Afonin. The use of these funds for the completion of problematic objects was approved by the chairman of the State Duma Volodin. He instructed to find the possibility of using part of the funds contributed by Saratov developers to the accounts of the self-regulatory organization’s compensation fund for the completion of problem houses.        

In general, we try to collect all together – investors, developers, power and law enforcement agencies, which should help each other. That is, we are trying now to create a platform that will help solve the problems of the construction industry more significantly. And not only. Problems of housing construction affect almost everything – the banking sector, the emergence of new jobs, tax collections and even demography