Dimple Bhatia, who paid almost half a million dirhams for a one-bedroom unit in Botanica Tower at the Dubai Marina, does not know how to get her money back Image Credit: xpress/abdel-krim kallouche

DUBAI : An accountant fears losing half a million dirhams she had paid for a Marina tower unit after she skipped three payments while negotiating for a discount from the developer.

Costly penalty

Dimple Bhatia, 29, a US-educated Indian raised in Dubai, said because the construction and hand-over of Botanica Tower was facing delays, she negotiated in August 2009 for a reduced price or payment scheme.

The developer, Select Group, cancelled her contract despite her offers to pay the unpaid instalments.

Till then, she had already paid Dh497,259 to Select Group for the one-bedroom unit, representing 36 per cent of the cash value of the Dh1.38 million property (or 24 per cent of the purchase price of Dh2.07 million based on the payment plan)

Bhatia had bought the unit at Dh2,654 per square foot at the height of the property boom.

Dubai's real estate market saw a freefall for 18 months with property prices falling over 50 per cent from their mid-2008 highs.

Bhatia now wants to withdraw the money. "I have asked for a deferred payment plan or payment relaxation — since Botanica is expected to be delayed by a year-and-a-half," she said.

She said she is clueless how to get her money back. "They cheated me. At one end, they were negotiating and at another end, they cancelled my contract."

Legally speaking

A recent report by Select Group said the core of the 36-storey Botanica Tower was already three floors above ground, with construction in full swing.

Soheyla Dad, Select Group's lawyer, said Bhatia has been in default since June 2009 and sufficient reminders were sent to her by courier and e-mail.

"The purchaser has never offered to settle her account to date," Dad said.

"Unfortunately, the negotiations (if any) proved to be unsuccessful for one reason or another - bearing in mind we are not legally obliged to negotiate where a purchaser is in default of their contractual terms."