The developer of the Remraam residential project in Dubailand has told buyers to make final payment and take possession of their apartments even though many of the facilities in the complex will not be built until next year.
Buyers in the project, which includes more than 3,000 apartments, have complained, however, that the development is still little more than a construction site. There are no utility hook-ups or landscaping and the main road to the site has not been built.
Mizin, a subsidiary of Dubai Properties Group (DPG) that is developing Remraam, sent buyers a notice stating that construction of the building had been finished. Buyers were contractually obliged to complete the handover process within 30 days of the completion date to ensure their investment was secured, the letter said. Buyers in the first phase began receiving initial handover notices in June.
"It's impossible for anybody to live there," said Allan Paris, a business consultant who paid Dh1.3 million (US$354,000) for an apartment in the first phase. "I can't live in a construction site."
A spokesman for DPG did not respond to queries about the latest notice. Last month, a spokesman for the company said: "DPG is committed to this project which will be delivered in accordance to initial expectations. However, a community takes time to mature."
Buyers with mortgages, such as Sundeep Fernandes, may have no choice but to accept their apartments. His mortgage company has advised him to take handover or risk defaulting on his mortgage. Mr Fernandes, who bought a one-bedroom apartment priced at Dh1.1m in 2008, is facing a Dh110,000 payment on handover and monthly payments of Dh8,843 a month, under terms of his Islamic loan.
If he accepts handover and does not move in, he will have to pay rent on another apartment. And he is unlikely to find anyone willing to rent his Remraam property. "This is absolutely frustrating," he said.
In the notice to owners a Mizin representative said apartments would be handed over "in a state that allows for immediate occupation", including the electric and water connections. Du is making "good progress" in hooking up telecommunications services, the notice said.
But "soft" landscaping won't begin until "towards the end of the year" and work on the community facilities is "currently anticipated to commence during the second quarter of next year", the notice said. "They just want to force people to take possession," said Farzad Salamat, who bought two apartments in the project. "In reality the project is not ready."
Original plans called for Remraam, which is named after a plant that grows naturally in the UAE, to include about 200 buildings.
Promotional materials emphasised swimming pools, community centres and landscaping covering more than 80 per cent of the property, in addition to the proximity to Dubailand's proposed amusement parks and malls. But most of the Dubailand facilities were placed on hold in 2009 and Remraam was scaled back to 56 buildings in the wake of the financial crisis.
"Mizin only delayed buildings due to non-payment from customers," the DPG spokesman said. "All customers who fulfilled their contractual payment obligations received the units they booked or alternatives as agreed mutually."
About 30 owners in the project have hired a lawyer to review the situation. A dozen buyers have sent notices to Mizin demanding cancellation of their contracts based on the developer missing the June 30 completion deadline.
But it would be expensive to pursue a claim for a few months' delay, considering dozens of projects in Dubai have been stalled for years, said the lawyer representing owners, who asked not to be identified. Contracts also gave the developer leeway to deliver amenities after the completion date, the lawyer said.