Frustrating wait for a villa in Jumeirah Village

Buyers claim they have been thrown into limbo by stalled construction and lack of communication from the developer.

Half-finished villas at Dubai's Jumeirah Village development, where building has stalled due to the recession.
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DUBAI // Buyers of villas in an upmarket development claim they have been thrown into limbo by stalled construction and what they say is a lack of communication from their site developer. Hundreds of villas and townhouses in Jumeirah Village, a sprawling development on the outskirts of Dubai, were nearing completion in 2008 as the global recession began, which affected the developer, Nakheel, and caused work on the project to be held up. A handful of residences have since been finished and occupied.

Nakheel has acknowledged that the restructuring of its heavily-indebted parent company, Dubai World, affected progress on the community. The result for many buyers of Jumeirah Village properties has been uninhabitable structures and financial exhaustion. "We've paid Dh3 million (US$816,000). It's gone," said Mumtaz Desai, a 35-year-old Briton, referring to the two-bedroom Mediterranean style-villa she thought she would be living in with her husband and 14-year-old daughter.

That plan has turned into a money trap for Ms Desai and her family. Promised a handover date of December 2008, repeated delays have forced them to live in a rented apartment in the Jumeirah Lake Towers to save money. "We're all squeezing into a little one-bedroom apartment," she said. "It's me, my husband and my daughter. She's always had her own bedroom. We're like: 'You'll just have to suffer a little longer'. But two months of delays has become six, and now it's nearly three years."

Her rent on the apartment and mortgage payments on her stalled villa amount to Dh14,000 a month, facts that had yet to register on Nakheel representatives, she said. "Nobody will give you any response except for the standard one," Ms Desai said. A public relations official at Nakheel said in an e-mail that completion dates "for near-term projects will be determined shortly as part of the restructuring process; in the meantime, we continue to work towards resuming work on those developments".

Andrew, a 36-year-old Australian who chose not to give his surname, had plans of starting a family with his wife once they moved into their two-bedroom villa in Jumeirah Village. Every so often he drives past his property, which has lingered on the cusp of completion for more than six months. "It's painted and it's got the sinks and toilets and showers and cabinets installed," he said. "The fridge, the washing machine have been sitting in boxes for six months in the living room. What's left I could literally do myself. It's 95 per cent complete."

In the meantime, he and his wife have put off having children because of their monthly outlays on the villa. His Jumeirah Village mortgage and the rent on his current accommodation in Mirdif amount to about Dh18,000 in monthly expenses. "We're ready to start a family but we can't afford it at the moment," he said. "It's all come down to this situation. But there are other people who are a lot worse than us. We're lucky that our project is at least going to be finished someday."

Jane, 43, a South African mother who chose not to give a last name, has been told that she will receive the her three-bedroom townhouse, this July, a delay of a year. Delighted that she will soon be moving in, she is nonetheless concerned about the surrounding development. "The area, the playgrounds and things, is still a dust heap," she said. "The community parks, the pathways, the play areas, we just don't know what we're going to get." @Email:hnaylor@thenational.ae