x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Investors in unfinished Jumeirah project demand their money back

Buyers say they are prepared to sue developer Ishraqah, which never finished the project and offered to return only 50 per cent of their investments.

Swarup Anand, Hari Achariya and Debabrai Changkakoic at the site of the Seasons project in Jumeirah Village Circle. They invested in the development, which was never completed.
Swarup Anand, Hari Achariya and Debabrai Changkakoic at the site of the Seasons project in Jumeirah Village Circle. They invested in the development, which was never completed.
DUBAI // Investors who bought apartments in a project at Jumeirah Village Circle that was never completed say they are prepared to take the developer Ishraqah to court if they do not get their money back.
"I poured my life savings into buying a one-bedroom apartment in the project," said Swarup Anand, a father of one who invested Dh500,000 in the Seasons development's Spring cluster.
"Last year Ishraqah told us that my part of the project was being cancelled and offered to pay back 50 per cent of my investment, but I rejected it because I want all my money back."
He said he was offered an alternative apartment in the Autumn cluster, but decided it was not suitable for his family after hearing cluster residents' complaints about poor finishing.
When initially put to investors in 2007, the Seasons development was to be split into four clusters; Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring.
Ishraqah's website describes the project as featuring a mix of residential, retail and leisure facilities with a capacity for over 1,300 residents and promising a 'luxurious' lifestyle.
After the financial crisis only the Summer and Autumn clusters were ever completed, leaving people who bought in the Spring cluster without a property. No homes were sold in the Winter cluster.
"We chose this project because we wanted to go with an established and reputable company," said Mr Anand, who paid for an apartment in the Spring cluster.
"But from 2009 they kept delaying and delaying. They kept warning us that if we did not keep up with the instalments then we would be charged late fees."
A spokeswoman for Ishraqah said: "The Spring cluster was indeed cancelled last year. Work on the Winter cluster had never started. The matter is now with the land department."
She added that a number of people had agreed to the offer of partial money back or an apartment in the Autumn cluster.
The land department confirmed the cancellation and has advised investors to go back to the company to get their money back.
"We just seem to be getting pushed from pillar to post," said Mr Anand.
He said a group of investors are now considering taking the matter to court, although they are resigned to that being a slow process which could take many months.
Roy Fleming, an Australian who invested Dh220,000 for his one-bedroom apartment in 2008, said: "You have to remember this project was meant to be handed over in 2010, so there is substantial rental income that would have been collected if the project had been delivered on time.
"A rough guess would put this lost rental income at Dh120,000, so Dh340,000 in total."
He said he had been left frustrated by the poor level of customer service from Ishraqah, which he believes should have contacted investors individually to inform them their properties were not going to be finished.
"I invested all the money I have in that project. My plan was for that money to grow quickly to allow me to eventually purchase a property for my family in Australia. Now there is the risk I may never see that money again."
Mr Fleming called for all the investors who have been left out of pocket to be refunded by Ishraqah and if that does not happen he has says the Dubai Government should intervene and force the company to pay up.
nhanif@thenational.ae