Homefront: 'Can I get my money back on a delayed off-plan property?'​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

The buyer asks if a lack of an Oqood registration strengthens his case

Dubai skyline seen from Deyaar properties on Business Bay.
(Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)

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I've bought an off-plan property in Dubai and it is delayed. Due to an administrative error on the developer's behalf, my property has not been registered with the Dubai Land Department yet. As a result no Oqood (a DLD service that aims to ease the registration of sale contracts for off-plan properties between developers and buyers) has been issued. Would this help me get my money back on the delayed property? Simply put, how can I be responsible for a property that's not even registered in my name? JM, Dubai 

When buying off-plan property, both parties — buyer and developer — are bound by the contents of the sales and purchase agreement (SPA). Deviations from what is agreed upon within the contract can and will attract penalties or consequences. The fact the registration has not yet been completed does not negate your responsibilities as per the SPA.

In simple terms, the consequences of non-registration doesn't mean you are not the legal buyer of your unit. The developer is responsible to register the unit at the DLD.

I do not know the exact contents of your SPA, however, there are consequences by law for delayed projects and these will be considered should you decide to file a case against the developer. I assume the developer has communicated to you exactly what is happening with your Oqood registration as this obviously has to be resolved — whether this is an administrative error or not. Taking all this into consideration, your position has not altered.

We invested in two apartments in 2008. The Dubai Land Department has told us the project has been cancelled and passed to Dubai Courts. How can I find out when the case will be dealt with. My wife and I are no longer in the UAE and we cannot visit the court to find out any more information. We have also tried e-mailing and calling but to no avail. What do you suggest? BC, UK

Situations like this are not uncommon and obviously can be extremely frustrating for you especially being so far away with little to no information. Once a project has been cancelled by the Real Estate Regulatory Agency, it can unfortunately take many years to conclude. There have been cases in the past (similar to yours) that have been ongoing for 10 years or more.

Your obvious redress at this point would be to come to Dubai to visit the DLD to get an update on what is going on. Rera has a cancellation department who should be able to update you. Alternatively if you are not able to come yourself, you can always appoint a power of attorney (POA) to gather the information on your behalf.

Mario Volpi is the sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers. He has worked in the property sector for 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 mario.volpi@engelvoelkers.com