Can I cancel off-plan property contract?

Last week I started dealing with a developer to buy a property. As it is off-plan, they asked for 30 per cent for the initial booking payment. The commitment is to then pay the rest of the amount on completion. After the initial form was signed, they sent me a contract, which had a number of conflicts with what was promised verbally – these included issues with the parking space, management service charges, other fees etc. I refused to sign this agreement. How can I cancel the deal and take my first instalment back from the escrow account? EV, Dubai

At this point, all I can say is that you need to read the contract very carefully to see what provisions it has (if any) in case of cancellation. Clearly, if your discussions about parking, management service charges, fees etc are not properly represented on the contract as you were led to believe, there has to be a valid explanation for this. If the result is that you are still not happy, you have the right to cancel. Getting your money back will be determined by the cancellation policy of the developer. I hope this doesn’t turn out to be an expensive divorce.

My flatmate, who signed a one-year contract with me, has decided she wants to move out. However she has not given me any notice nor has she informed the landlord. She hasn’t paid her rent yet and is looking to move out before the three-month rent is due. Can she actually do this? Is she breaking the contractual law that was signed when agreeing the contract? Would I be liable to pay what she owes? Can I take her to court if she leaves the property? SH, Dubai

From the information given, I deduce that you are subleasing from her? Any rental agreement is between the landlord and the tenant; you being a potential sub-tenant will only have rights if the landlord is aware of you and your agreement. If not and she still wants to move out early means only she is liable for whatever penalties there are within the contract. As far as I can see, the only reasonable solution would be if she stays on until another person can be found to take over her contract (assuming the landlord agrees). In an ideal world, communication is key, so inform the landlord of what is happening and, more importantly, what you are doing about it. Remember that if the landlord is not aware you are sub-leasing, your contract becomes null and void anyway, so I would concentrate on sorting this out, rather than thinking about taking her to task.

I have bought an off-plan property from a developer. When I asked them for the Dubai Land Department (DLD) registration (Oqood) they gave me a scanned copy only, saying they can’t give me the hard copy. I have a few questions on this: 1. Is it possible to verify the genuineness of the certificate from the DLD? 2. Does the DLD only issue one copy of the certificate? 3. Can one party change the contents of the certificate after issue? UM, Dubai

Unfortunately there are no real verification processes for Oqood such as there is for title deeds. The only way would be to go to the Dubai Land Department in person armed with the sale and purchase agreement to show proof of interest in the property. Only one copy is issued. Oqoods are like title deeds in that the Land Department does not want too many of them floating around for fear of fraud.

The straightforward answer to your last point should be no. One party ought not to be able to unilaterally alter the contents after issue.

Mario Volpi is the chief sales officer for Kensington Exclusive Properties and has worked in the property industry for more than 30 years in London and Dubai. The opinions expressed do not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Please send any questions to mario.volpi@kensington.ae.

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