UAE property: ‘Can I claim compensation for a delayed handover?’

Developers are legally granted a buffer of a 12-month delay on their projects

Despite the fact that developers have a permissible buffer of a 12-month delay on their projects, further delays often take place due to all sorts of reasons. Antonie Robertson / The National
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I purchased an off-plan apartment in Dubai in 2015 and the developer promised a completion date of 2019.

However, the developer has yet to complete the project. I have suffered financially since I already paid 70 per cent of the property price as per the sales and purchase agreement, while the balance of 30 per cent is due on handover.

How can I get compensation from the developer and what is the best way forward? SI, Dubai

Despite the fact that developers have a permissible buffer of a 12-month delay on their projects, further delays often take place due to all sorts of reasons.

Considering this, it is likely that with the allowed delay of 12 months, this particular project most probably found itself in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although I am not defending or making excuses for the developer, it is possible that they found themselves in this situation because of past events, which translated into the delay you currently face.

My advice is to try to communicate directly with the developer as much as possible to see if an agreement can be reached.

However, if you are not satisfied with the compensation that may be offered or the lack of any, then your only other option would be to file a case in court.

You should think about this very carefully because taking a large developer to court is not an easy task and will take time, money and a great deal of effort. The outcome is also not known, so it is a game of chance.

My landlord served us with an eviction notice in December 2021. He sold the house to a new owner in August 2022.

We checked with two real estate brokers and a lawyer at the Rent Dispute Settlement Committee (RDSC), who confirmed that the new owner needs to give us a separate 12-month eviction notice. This is because the purpose of the previous notice was to sell the house and this is now done.

I have been told that this scenario is quite commonplace in the real estate industry now. Have you seen similar cases? JO, Dubai

This scenario is definitely playing out in the market, but we cannot guarantee the outcome.

It is true that if a tenant files a case at the RDSC when they do not wish to vacate property, it has been shown in the past that some judges have requested the new buyer to send their own 12-month eviction notice.

I suggest you wait until December and if the new buyer still expects you to move out at the termination of the first 12-month notice, you could file a case at the RDSC.

Explain why you wish to renew your lease and hope that the judge rules in your favour and requests the new buyer to send you a separate 12-month notice.


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My apartment in Abu Dhabi is rented out but my tenant has not paid the rent for more than 40 days.

He ignores my request via email to make the rent payment. I even sent him a notarised letter, but to no avail.

I am currently based abroad. Do I need a power of attorney if I wish to file a case in court to collect my rent? GC, Abu Dhabi

As you are currently in another country, I suggest you organise a power of attorney to act on your behalf and help you to file a legal case against your tenant. This will also help you overcome any complications or technical requirements if you file a case.

This way, you will be assured of concluding the process without any possible delays from your side.

Mario Volpi is the sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers. He has worked in the property sector for more than 35 years, in London and Dubai. The opinions expressed do not constitute legal advice and are provided for information only. Please send any questions to

Updated: October 20, 2022, 4:00 AM