Dubai: Investors who paid as much as Dh1.7 million for apartments in a residential tower said they are no closer to moving in though the project should have been completed two years back.

Three 40-storey buildings at Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT) — two residential towers and a business tower — were due to be completed in 2007, but buyers have now been told that the buildings won't be ready before 2011.

Altered plans

They claimed that the developer Al Attar Properties altered the original plans from two-bedroom apartments to one-bedroom plus a study and changed the views they wanted. An official from Al Attar Properties said the delays have been due to problems with regulations and reassured investors that construction work would begin "in four weeks' time".

Mohammad Makram, an Egyptian national, said he is one of 60 investors affected and is currently forced to rent as well as pay off a bank loan that he took for the apartment.

He bought a Dh1 million freehold two-bedroom apartment in 2007 and was originally told it would be completed at the end of that year.

Sherif Atef, an Egyptian expat, who spent Dh1.7 million on a two-bedroom apartment in the Vista Del Lago tower, said: "It's been so frustrating since I bought the apartment in August 2008. I don't think we'll see the money again."

"We have taken independent experts to the area and they said that there is no way a 40-storey building will be ready by 2011 and that's even if they start work right away," Makram said.

Life on hold

He added that the group decided to wait for a change in the law in the new year before moving court. "My life has been on hold for two years. I had been planning to get married but that'll be delayed as I don't know where we may be living," he said.

Many investors have been de-manding their money back but Al Attar Properties has been refusing, Makram added.

Bipin Tavarool, Project Manager for Al Attar Properties, said the company was not considering giving money back. "We don't want a panic. We have to look at the investors as a whole and if we hand the money back the towers won't be completed." He said a delaying factor had been the work on five basement areas which involve a deep excavation. The workforce had been "mobilised".