Property investors in Dubai will be eligible for cancellation of their contracts and may seek “full” refunds if the real estate developer fails to provide the promised unit or services within a specific timeframe, according to a proposed new Investor Protection Law.
From a delay in handing over of units to a failure to deliver promised facilities as per the sales contract, the proposed law gives property investors in Dubai the right to seek cancellation of their contracts and get “full” refunds.
Under the proposed law, an investor will get the right to cancel the contract and obtain a full refund if the developer has taken more than eight months (beyond the promised handover date) to hand over the unit(s).
Another provision proposes to make it mandatory for the developer to provide all the common facilities promised in the contract at the time of handover.
Therefore, swimming pools, gyms or any other promised facility in the building will have to be ready before officially handing over the keys to the owners.
Failure to do so on the part of the developer will allow the investor to cancel his or her contract and claim refund on investment.
At present, some developers have failed to provide the facilities mentioned in their sales purchase agreements (SPAs) or marketing collateral.
Until now, owners did not have much recourse and could only hope that the facilities would get completed at some point in time.
On the other hand, developers will face fines if the units they promise are not delivered on time, or to agreed specifications.
A proposed provision of the draft law says that if a unit turns out to be 30 per cent smaller than the actual net area in the contract, the investor will have the right to cancel the contract and obtain a full refund.
In case of off-plan sales, the draft proposes to make it mandatory for a developer to get all approvals from the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) and to register all saleable units with the Dubai Land Department’s Oqood system — the online registration system.
The developer is also obliged to register all contracts with Rera and to provide all information regarding the project’s handover, escrow account, etc.
The draft law mentions that a reservation form will be deemed “void” if the developer has failed to provide the investor with an agreement within 15 days of the signing of the reservation form.
Arabic newspaper Al Bayan quoted Sultan Bin Mejren Director General of Dubai Land Department, earlier this month, saying that the department had completed the finalisation of the draft law on the protection of the real estate investor and it is expected to be implemented by June-end.
Ludmila Yamalova, Managing Partner of HPL Yamalova & Plewka JLT, told Emirates 24|7: “The various provisions mentioned in the draft are helpful for the investors especially since it gives them the right to cancel than just seek compensation.
“A lot more, however, can be done to tighten the provisions relating to off plan market.”
Following the global economic slowdown of 2008, there are still hundreds of property projects on hold in Dubai (as of March 31, 2012), but many are likely to see the light of day.
Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Agency has been quoted in the planned sovereign bond prospectus as saying that 165 projects have been completed since the beginning of 2009; 291 projects are on hold; 291 projects are likely to be completed in due course, while 29 projects have not yet commenced.
According to the prospectus, Dubai Land Department says that 291 projects are on hold, but that each of them is likely to qualify for either the Tayseer or the Tanmia initiatives that will provide financial and other assistance to such projects and their investors.
Nevertheless, legal experts opine that a remedy to whether or not an investor can claim refund may already exist in the contract that she or he signs with the developer.
In certain contracts, the developers have clearly mentioned the handover date to commence only after completion of the infrastructure work by the master developer. Here, developers can use the “force majeure” clause to justify delays, experts say.
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