SPAs can be cancelled on difference in specs

Building specifications need to be adhered to (Supplied)

A purchaser can approach the competent court to request termination of the sale contract if a material difference exists between the specifications mentioned in the contract and the actual specifications delivered, according to legal experts.

"The law does provide protection to purchasers where the measurements and/or specifications of a property differ to those described in a sale and purchase agreement. However, the remedies provided depend on the degree of the deviation," Nick Clayson, partner and Head of Real Estate Middle East, for Norton Rose Group, told Emirates 24|7.

Shahram Safai, partner at Afridi & Angell, said: "Generally, if the specifications are so different ("significantly changed") that the purchaser has not received the benefit of his or her bargain, a good case may be made. Decree 6 of 2010 states that a purchaser may seek termination of a purchase contract if the specifications are significantly changed."

The current legislation provides that where the measurement of a property is found to be more than five per cent less than the measurement of the property specified in the sales and purchase agreement (SPA), the developer is obliged by the law to compensate the purchaser.

"Generally when a purchaser wishes to dispute the specifications or measurements of a property, they should initially look at the SPA signed with the developer. A well-drafted contract should specify the rights and remedies of the parties in the event of any discrepancies in such matters."

However, contracts tend to be fairly varied in this region in terms of how clear they are and don't always refer to international measuring standards, Clayson said.

"This can be make it difficult to interpret the intention of the parties in the event that a dispute as to property specifications arises. Ultimately, the best measures a purchaser can take to protect himself is to ensure he has a well-drafted contract where the intentions of the parties are clearly set out and retain copies of all correspondence with the developer in respect of the property."

Snagging experts in the UAE told this website earlier that property owners in most cases are getting less sellable area than what was promised in their sales and purchase agreements (SPA). The variance could be as low as three per cent and as high as 15 per cent. Besides, snagging reports issued by professionals can be used as evidence to bring a case against a property developer.

Clayson said: "Obtaining a snagging report upon completion of the property can also assist the purchaser in the event of any subsequent claim against the developer."

According to Safai, a report by a quantity surveyor or professional engineer commissioned to make such assessment would be required to prove specifications defer than the promised in the SPA.

"However, snagging reports would be helpful supporting documents," he added.

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