From Emirates Business 247 19 May 09
Abu Dhabi-based Hydra Properties has issued legal notices to some investors in the Hydra Village project saying their property will be re-acquired by the developer and the amount paid to reserve the units by the investors will be forfieted if they fail to pay their outstanding dues.
Hydra Village was due to be completed this year but the delivery date has been pushed back by two years.
The document sent to some investors by electronic mail says: "The unit/s allotment… stands cancelled and Hydra Properties has absolute and unfettered right over the said unit/s, including but not limited to re-sale of the said unit/s to any third party."
It says: "…your purchase reservation agreement stands terminated" and "the reservation amount and instalments paid… are deemed forfeited to Hydra Properties".
An investor, who along with others has joined the newly-formed Hydra Investors Group, told Emirates Business on condition of anonymity: "I was called by a Hydra executive last week and asked to pay the dues in the next few days or else they would take away my unit.
"The first time I received a call from Hydra was last year, but last week I was called twice. First they asked me about my situation and the next time they called to ask me to pay 50 per cent of the contract value or else they would cancel my unit.
"I never had any contract with them or any other communication about the project's progress. Now they ask me to sign a contract with clauses that are totally in favour of the developer. They are even not offering me time to review the contract."
Ahmed Khalil, Hydra's Commercial Director, confirmed that his company has sent legal notices to a few investors who had defaulted. "We are ready to help them and they can meet us by making appointments. We will be handling their issues on an individual basis. We have offered them revised payment plans and are even helping them to get finance from banks," he said.
Asked why the project was delayed by almost two years, Khalil said the masterplan had undergone changes and as a result the timeframe for completion changed to the fourth quarter of 2011.
Another investor said: "I was told that I would be given a contract as soon as I paid 20 per cent, which I handed over by April 2007. But I have never received any contract." He said he heard no word from Hydra until two weeks ago when he received a letter of termination and cancellation. "This is in spite of my repeated efforts over the past two years to get a contract and project update, which were never forthcoming. I did not, prior to this notice, receive either a request or demand for payment. I phoned the collections department and they said they were not interested in anything but that I had to pay first. Only then will they give me a contract and project update."
A third investor said he received a call last week from a collections department employee: "He said I was in default and that if I did not pay promptly I would lose my villa. And he offered to waive any penalties if I paid.
"He offered to send me the contract and asked me to sign and send it back to him with the money due. The contract never arrived."Graeme Perry, a spokesman for the Hydra Investors Group, said the e-mail asked investors to pay their dues and added that failure to do so by the specified date would result in a fine of Dh500 a day.
He said the group had advised members that any communication with Hydra in future should be conducted via a signed letter with a company seal and couriered so that all parties, including Hydra, were protected.
"We are not happy with mass e-mail demands whose provenance can neither be proved nor their admissibility in a court of law certain," said Perry."
Moreover, we have three different contract versions, which clearly shows the terms have become untenable. Version one and two require the client to forfeit 20 per cent should he or she default. Now the latest contract says 50 per cent.
"It would seem that this letter has been issued to many group members who paid reservation deposits more than two years ago for property in Hydra Village."
Karl Howard, co-chair of the group, said: "This letter has gone out to all interested stakeholders irrespective of their relationship with Hydra. Those who signed a contract but asked their mortgage lenders to halt payments until proof of construction had been provided have received them. In addition people who have never signed, nor even seen the latest contract, have also received them.
"Hydra maintained that a purchase reservation agreement that many buyers signed upon receipt of their initial reservation deposit allowed the developer to demand payment in full, said the group.
"In other words Hydra is demanding that people who have refused to sign Hydra's contract must still be held to it anyway, which is unacceptable," said Howard. "Without a signed contract we believe the law will always uphold the rights of individual.
"To complicate matters further a sizeable number of investors say they have never seen nor heard of the purchase reservation agreement, which Hydra alleges is legally obliging.
Perry said the group has three options – negotiating with the developer, taking the legal route and, finally, pleading their case before the Ruler's Court.
"We would like to hold direct talks with Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim, Hydra's CEO, and come to a mutual agreement. He showed an inclination to meet investors at a recent talk show on the radio. We are looking forward to meeting him.
"We are also considering pleading our case before the Ruler's Court. However, it is not that easy a procedure. We have some local investors whom we are talking to about this issue."
Perry said Hydra Village, which is now scheduled to be finished by December 2011, "has a six-month delay clause, which extends their time to June 2012."