Swap deal seems best bet for frustrated buyer of off-plan Dubai property

An off-plan property buyer is unhappy about a seven-day 'swap' offer from the Dubai developer.
Nakheel had offered investors on the stalled Palm Jebel Ali development to transfer their stakes to its other projects such as such as Al Furjan in Jebel Ali and Palm Jumeirah. Razan Alzayani / The National
Nakheel had offered investors on the stalled Palm Jebel Ali development to transfer their stakes to its other projects such as such as Al Furjan in Jebel Ali and Palm Jumeirah. Razan Alzayani / The National

I bought an off-plan property in a Dubai development in 2008. The property was purchased directly from the developer who also arranged Islamic mortgage finance for the property. I paid 10 per cent as the initial deposit with the handover date given as December 2010. The project was then scaled back following the crash and my apartment was never built. I have been chasing the developer to get resolution to this and they have been most unhelpful. I have now received a letter stating that the developer is offering a property swap and I have seven days to accept or face legal action. Given that I have already faced a four-year delay to handover I am now being asked to accept a property which is not what I originally bought and feel I am being pressurised to accept it. What are my legal rights? SK, Dubai

It is appalling to think that you have been waiting for so long for this development to finish and now you are faced with a decision you don’t want to make but sadly your options are limited. If the project is not cancelled by Rera and is officially on hold then the only advice I can offer is for you to really carefully look at your original sales and purchase agreement, especially any clauses that explain what happens owing to delays and both your and the developer’s obligations. Taking the developer to court is an option but one I don’t recommend you to take without careful consideration. These things rarely go the way you expect them to and the cost is normally quite prohibitive, not to mention the length of time it can take to resolve. I am not saying you should just accept the swap option, but isn’t it better to receive a property that you can start to enjoy or receive a rent from rather than the definite nightmare scenario of suing the developer?

I own a property in Executive Towers in Business Bay and I have put it up on rent. The contract expires on June 15, 2015, however I would like to move into the apartment soon as I plan to live there now. Is there a way I can issue a notice to the tenant asking him to vacate within three months? PS, Dubai

The correct procedure is to send your tenant an eviction notice either via notary public or registered mail. You have to give the reason for wanting the property and in your case it is for personal use. This notification gives your tenant 12 months to vacate. You cannot legally request an eviction within three months. The above way is the only correct procedure you must follow.

I have served a written eviction notice to a tenant living in my villa, but the tenant is refusing to leave because the rent is below the market rate. This tenant has lived in my villa for the last three years so far. I admit it is not a public notary notice, but the tenant has signed it and I have the copy. I want to sell the villa but cannot do so because there is a tenant. NE, Dubai

You are at liberty to sell your property at any time but I do understand that when selling with a tenant in situ, it can be more difficult as investors will shy away because of the low rent he is paying and end users will have to wait 12 months before getting possession. Unfortunately for you the law is clear in that you can get vacant possession for the reason of selling by giving 12 months’ notification to vacate by notary public or registered mail. These are the only two ways this notice can be served, irrespective of whether a tenant has signed your notice or not. My advice would be to serve the notice properly and to price your villa attractively so it will stand out from the competition. There are many people wishing to buy their own property at the moment, but the only thing that is really preventing a fluid sales property market is sellers asking prices that are too high.

Mario Volpi is the managing director of Prestige Real Estate in Dubai (prestigedubai.com). He has 30 years of property industry experience in the emirate and London. Send any questions to mario@prestigedubai.com

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Readers are encouraged to seek appropriate independent legal advice

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Published: December 3, 2014 04:00 AM

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