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What Happens When the Handover of My Dubai Off-Plan Property Purchase Is Delayed?

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

When you buy property off-plan, there is always a risk that the developer does not finish it within the promised time frame.


In fact, even the UAE's largest and most reputable developers regularly hand over their buildings years after schedule.


In the recent past, selected developments by Emaar Properties and DAMAC Properties took up to 8-10 years to complete, and with that were delayed by up to four years.


Investors in those projects still got lucky. Some smaller, lesser-known developers have filed for bankruptcy before some of their real estate developments were ever completed. The supertall residential skyscraper Marina 101 by Sheffield Holdings Limited in Dubai Marina, for instance, reached a completion status of close to 100% before its developer ran out of money. Investors in its apartments are waiting to this day for the finishing touches to be completed and thus cannot move in or rent out their properties. That building was first offered to investors off-plan in 2007.



The Marina 101 Tower is the tallest building in Dubai Marina, and despite looking finished, has still not been handed over due to the bankruptcy of its developer Sheffield Holdings Limited (Image © by TheDubaiNavigator.com)


The good news is that the vast majority of projects eventually do get finished, and most of them even complete within one year of the promised time frame.


UAE law stipulates that as long as a property is finished within 1 year of the advertised completion time, investors do not have the right to any compensation.


If the property is finished more than 1 year after the promised handover date, the developer is required by law to provide compensation to investors. The amount of compensation is usually, but not always, stipulated in the original purchase contract, and can vary widely, as it is up to the developer.


Even then, it is not unusual, especially for smaller developers, to ignore calls for compensation. In those cases, investors rely on the court system to force the developer to pay. Courts tend to look at delays on a case-by-case basis. If the developer is able to provide reasonable evidence that delays are not the result of their own making, e.g., because one of their main contractors went under, the court may allow them to hand over the properties years after schedule without paying investors compensation.


We are offering comprehensive Dubai property investment coaching in which we teach you in a private, interactive 1-on-1 session what to look out for when investing in Dubai and UAE real estate. From selecting a location to renting strategies and estimating returns in advance through cash flow analysis, we are here to professionally ensure your investment risks are reduced, and return opportunities maximized. We are independent and never earn a commission from property sellers or developers - allowing us to recommend what is truly best for the investor. To learn more and benefit from a free consultation, click here.



Dubai has more than 30 developers, and hundreds of new buildings get completed every year. We are experts at navigating clients through the offerings and help them make investment decisions based on cash flow analysis.

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