Dubai property dispute goes to court

Investors who bought apartments in a project that was never completed praise the Dubai authorities' decision to take their case to court.

DUBAI // Investors who bought apartments in a project that was never completed yesterday praised the Dubai authorities' decision to take their case to court.

People who put their cash into The Seasons - an Ishraqah development at Jumeirah Village Circle that promised a luxurious lifestyle - claim they have been left out of pocket after building work was only half finished.

The development was designed to be split into Summer, Winter, Spring and Autumn residential clusters. Only the Autumn and Summer sectors were completed. Work on the Winter section never began. Those who bought apartments in the Spring cluster were told last year that the scheme had been cancelled. The investors, including people living overseas, contacted the Land Department and the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Rera) in a bid to get their money back.

The Land Department confirmed it had passed the case on to its legal department.

"The Spring cluster project was cancelled at the request of the developer," said a statement. "The developer pledged to return the investors' rights when they raised this issue.

"Rera asked the developer to return the dues within the time limit granted to the developer as stated in Article 26 of the Executive Council resolution No 6 of 2010. The time frame was extended for the developer.

"Due to the lack of developer's commitment and not responding to Rera's notes of paying back, the topic was moved to the Centre of Legal Affairs to file a case against the developer to safeguard the rights of the investors."

The move was welcomed by investors, who said they had renewed hope that they would be refunded.

"This is wonderful news," said Swarup Anand, an Indian who paid Ishraqah Dh500,000 for an off-plan, one-bedroom apartment in the Spring cluster.

"I have wasted more than three years without this money, which I could have used to invest in something else.

"Finally, we can see a light at the end of the tunnel and I'm hopeful we can get a positive outcome to resolve this issue."

The Seasons project was to be a mix of residential and retail space featuring homes for 1,300 people.

Mr Anand said he wanted the apartment as a home for his young family but he has since been forced to pay rent on another home on top of his monthly loan repayments.

Despite welcoming the news that his case will now go before the courts, he was resigned to the legal process being a long one.

"I don't think we'll see anything happen for another six months at least," he said. "But at least now we have some hope that we can recoup our investments."

Roy Fleming, an Australian who invested Dh220,000 for his one-bedroom apartment in 2008, said: "This project was meant to be handed over in 2010.

"There is substantial rental income that would have been collected if the project had been delivered on time."

No one from Ishraqah was available for comment.