Embarking on a villa renovation in the dynamic landscape of the United Arab Emirates, particularly in the bustling cities of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or Ras Al Khaimah can be a thrilling but challenging endeavor.
The increase in online scams targeting unsuspecting homeowners has given rise to an alarming number of disputes in the region.
This article is a legal roadmap to guide homeowners through potential pitfalls and empower them to protect their investments.
1. Unmasking the Scams:
In the digital age, the virtual world can be a treacherous space.
A number of Clients, Fakhry Law Firm have represented, with similar cases started , when they initially discovered an Instagram page showcasing stunning villa transformations with enticing captions promising quality work. Excited about the prospect of transforming their own home, they hastily engage with the seemingly reputable contractor.
However, beneath the glossy images and façade was a scam artist.
Typical scam cases include instances where they may disappear with your deposit, leaving your dream home in shambles, or they start working on your villa with poor quality workmanship, attempting to make you liable for their subpar performance. For example, in a particular Case we worked on in Sharjah, the homeowners fell victim to a contractor who not only vanished with their funds but also left behind a trail of poorly executed work, forcing the homeowners to find a more professional company to rectify the damages. The contractor even ended up sending them a legal notice accusing them of abusively terminating his contract and took them to Court.
Another cautionary tale involves a family in Dubai who, enchanted by a contractor’s online portfolio, neglected to delve deeper. The lack of reviews and testimonials proved ominous, as the contractor took their money and vanished after carrying out substandard work with continuous missed deadlines and delays. In most cases these contractors are demanding 80% of the fee before they start working .
That is why, before engaging a contractor or architect discovered online or on social media, it’s imperative to exercise due diligence.
2. The Power of a Solid Contract:
Protecting your investment starts with crafting a comprehensive and legally sound contract. Very often, Clients enter into a contract with the renovator based on a contract he provides, or worse without a written contract.
A case that we worked on in Dubai illustrates this point. Our client engaged a contractor based on recommendations from friends, only to find that the vague contract he signed offered little protection. During the execution, the Client discovered a lot of mistakes and discrepancies with things he agreed with the contractor verbally without being materialized in the contract. The contractor was trying to take advantage of the poor contract to claim additional amounts, and additional time in the execution, and even refused to carry out some works based on the fact they were not mentioned in the contract.
If the Client had negotiated the terms upfront with a legal expert, who skilfully would have added clauses ensuring quality work, timely completion, and clear repercussions for breaches, they would have saved a lot of money time and trouble. A legal expert could have streamlined the process, providing clarity on timelines and enforcing penalties for delays.
Engaging a lawyer to review the terms before signing is crucial. It’s often more prudent to pay for a consultation fee from a lawyer rather than embarking on a lengthy and costly litigation process at a later stage.
3. Addressing Issues:
When issues arise during the renovation process, consider the following steps:
3.1. Amicable Resolution:
If you do not feel comfortable working with the contractor you have appointed or notice structural issues emerging during your villa renovation, it is highly recommended to stop working with him immediately. Instead of resorting directly to legal action, try engaging in open communication with the contractor to terminate him at the earliest. If you are able to reach an amicable agreement with him, that will save you more time and money.
3.2. Consumer Protection Committee:
It is worth also seeking assistance from the consumer protection committee.
A case in Dubai saw a homeowner frustrated with poor workmanship. The committee intervened, mediating a solution that satisfied both parties without resorting to costly legal battles. However, this approach depends on the type of case you raise to the committee. The committee cannot substitute the Court.
4. Court Proceedings:
Should the above options prove futile, it’s time to involve legal representation; this is where you will need to reach out to legal representation to share your problem.
The legal representative would initially send a robust legal notice to the opponent, trying as a last resort to solve the case amicably. The clarity and the strength of legal ground of a legal notice can often lead to solving the issue amicably. In another case we worked on in Dubai, a homeowner faced severe damages due to a negligent contractor. Our legal experts drafted a firm legal notice, outlining the mistakes committed and the resulting damages. The notice served as the foundation for a comprehensive approach to dispute resolution, and we were able to reach an amicable solution, ensuring the homeowner received compensation for the damages, and the initial contract was nullified.
If a settlement is reached based on the legal notice, a well-drafted settlement agreement is crucial. It cancels the initial renovation contract and clearly states the terms agreed upon, protecting both parties.
If no settlement is reached, then the last stage would be to recourse to the court. A court expert will be nominated to assess the quality of work, identify delays, and calculate damages. Based on this expert report, a court case is initiated, seeking contract cancellation and damages. This strategic approach ensures a robust legal footing.
For personalized assistance or further information, homeowners can seek our legal guidance by reaching out to us through the following email: email@example.com.
Your dream home deserves the protection it needs. Don’t let a renovation nightmare become your reality – empower yourself with the knowledge to safeguard your investment