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Vue De Lac towers: Towering trouble in Dubai

Investors run up huge debts on mortgages after project suffers four-year delay

Dark days
Image Credit: XPRESS/Hadrian Hernandez & Supplied
Dark days: Like Mariano many others have run up huge debts for the project that was scheduled for completion in 2007 (artist impression inset).

Dubai: Bank debts and stress is piling up for investors who paid millions, some their entire life savings, for property in a landmark New Dubai development that's delayed by four years.

The Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) confirmed to XPRESS that it is reviewing The Vue De Lac towers - two residential towers and a business tower - at Jumeirah Lake Towers.

Shockingly, the main construction work has not begun till date despite the towers having an initial completion date of 2007.

As a result about 60 investors who paid up to Dh1.7 million for their apartments, are accumulating interest on mortgages taken out for the property.

Marriage on the rocks

Stress has been the biggest headache for Filipino expat Jimmy Mariano whose marriage almost fell apart after he invested Dh400,000 - his savings over 10 years working in Dubai - and took a Dh932,000 mortgage from Amlak Finance to pay for a two-bedroom apartment in one of the towers.

"It has almost cost my marriage. My wife was so upset that I put my life savings into this," said the middle-aged father of one who has to pay about Dh70,000 to rent accommodation until he can move into his JLT home.

Amlak documents reveal that it released Dh533,000 of Mariano's loan to the developer Al Attar Properties in 2008. However, as of date only 15 per cent of the property has been completed. Since 2008 Mariano's loan has accrued over Dh100,000 in interest.

Rera and the main developer, Dubai MCC, were currently reviewing the project, a Rera spokesperson said. They assured investors the project had an escrow account - an account overseen by the Land Department which buyers pay into for an off-plan lot. The money is released to the developer a year after all units are registered in purchasers' names. "The project is currently registered at Rera and has an escrow account, ... the investors will be provided with a detailed final completion schedule," the spokesperson said.

Al Attar declined to explain the four-year delay when contacted on Wednesday. Al Attar had told XPRESS in 2009 that investors would not be getting their money back. "We don't want a panic. If we hand the money back, the towers won't be completed," Bipin Tavarool, Project Manager for Al Attar Properties, had said in November 2009.

The main developer DMCC said 57 towers in JLT had been finished, with another 10 in the final stages.

The development of each tower in JLT came down to individual developers and was not under the control of the master developer, which sold plots to developers, a DMCC spokesman said.



Latest Comment

We were one of those investors who purchased a property from Al Attar. We were the primary buyers. We had a look at the Palladium and also a lot of other towers at that time, but bought the property from Al Attar as he was a man with good social standing. We thought he would keep his word. But what happened at the end was that every other tower that we had rejected over fears of being cheated were built and the only one that faced trouble was the one offered by Al Attar, who had the clout to take our money, shoo us away and threaten that he won't return our money ever. In fact, not just that, he even said that he would decide whether to build the property or not! What you did not add in this story was the fact that some of us bought two-bedroom apartments but were informed by e-mails that we would no longer get the two-beds that we opted for and instead get just one-bedroom plus a studio. And we still were not permitted to cancel our investment. Where are the rights of the investors? Following this, we pulled out all our other investments out of this country and told at least 10 friends of ours not to invest here. If there are no laws to protect investors, then we cannot afford to invest here. The government should have handled this before.

Dania Mirza

3 April 2011 14:59jump to comments