Homefront: Luxury development is anything but for new Dubai apartment owner

The buyer says the high-end development has a number of issues including leaks, rats, poor sound proofing and faulty lifts.

The skyline at Palm Jumeirah's beach. Photo: Reem Mohammed / The National 
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I am the owner of an apartment in a new freehold development in Dubai.  This development was and continues to be marketed as a high-end development and property prices are in the range of Dh1,900 to Dh2,000 per square foot  The development consists of a number of mid-rise apartments and a high-street mall. Handover of the units began 12 months ago. Since purchasing the unit we have been plagued with a number of building quality issues such as leaks, rats, lack of sound proofing, security barriers in the car park not working, malfunctioning lifts etc. In addition, there has been a lack of community management; the building facades have not been cleaned, the common areas are poorly kept and so on. These issues are being faced by a number of owners and we signed a petition which was sent to the developer stating our grievances. Unfortunately, the developer continues to promise to fix the issues, however there never seems to be any resolution. I visited the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) and showed the petition to them but the representative stated there was not much he could help with. In your experience, is there any action the owners can take against the developer?  The development is being marketed as a high-end luxury development, however, the finished product is of poor quality and purchasers have not delivered what they promised. FL, Dubai 

The developer has several obligations. Firstly, getting sight of the building's completion certificate to check the date is important because it relates to the warranties that bind the developer under Article 26 of the Jointly Owned Property Law (JOP Law 27 of 2007). The developer remains liable for 10 years from the date of the completion certificate of the project to repair and cure any defects in the structural elements of the JOP. The developer also remains liable for one year from the date of the completion certificate of the project to repair or replace any defective installations in the JOP.

With this in mind, my advice would be to speak to the developer again to engage in effective dialogue. The developer should also arrange the forming of the Owners' Association (OA). If this has yet to be done, perhaps the residents can get together and help run the OA, this way, you will have a say in the way the building is run and managed. Failing all of the above, I would re-connect again with Rera, sighting the failings of the developer as per Law 27 of 2007.

I have lived in a building in Sharjah for the last six years and I work in Dubai. In September last year I had a Dh8,000 cheque returned due to a mistake on my part, but I was able to deposit the money in the account on the same day. The building company deposited the cheque almost a week after I followed up. I thought the matter was settled as there was no further communication. Then this year, when I renewed the contract after submitting the post dated cheques, they kept hold of my contract and refused to return it stating I am liable to pay Dh2,000 towards a fine for the returned cheque which is written (in Arabic) in the contract. I have heard of cases where a fine of Dh500 or a maximum of 10 per cent of the amount is charged for a returned cheque but this seems exorbitant and the timing is after about nine months. What can I do? GK, Sharjah

In most rental agreement addendum, it will state a monetary penalty amount for any returned/bounced cheque and in general, this amount is in the region of Dh500. I agree with you that charging Dh2,000 for a returned cheque does seem like daylight robbery. Unfortunately, even though you acted quickly to rectify the issue last time , the cheque had already been rejected. I suggest that you seek justification from the building company and ask them how can they possibly charge this amount for "admin work"? I assume you have been a good tenant in the past and clearly, by sorting out the payment issue quickly, it ought to be enough to convince them to be more reasonable. They are not entitled to hold onto your contract, especially as they have already taken the first payment of rent. Clearly the key to all this is diplomacy and dialogue. In a face-to-face meeting, negotiate a settlement for a returned cheque. By remaining calm, I'm sure you will be able to reach a mutual agreement.

Mario Volpi is the chief sales officer for Kensington Exclusive Properties and has worked in the property industry for over 30 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@kensington.ae