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What Happens if a Buyer Defaults on Payments After Buying Off-Plan Property in Dubai?

What Happens if a Buyer Defaults on Payments After Buying Off-Plan Property in Dubai?

In Dubai’s real estate market, purchasing off-plan properties has become a popular option for investors and homebuyers alike. However, it’s essential to understand the implications if a buyer defaults on payments after entering into a sales agreement with a developer. Here’s what you need to know:

Understanding Off-Plan Property Purchases in Dubai

When buying an off-plan property in Dubai, the developer (seller) and the buyer enter into a Sales Purchase Agreement (SPA). As per Dubai’s regulations, any off-plan property sold by a developer must be registered in the Interim Real Property Register with the Dubai Land Department (DLD). This registration is crucial as it provides legal protection for both parties involved in the transaction.

Defaulting on Payments

If a buyer fails to make payments according to the agreed-upon schedule outlined in the SPA, it could constitute a breach of the terms and conditions of the agreement. In such cases, the developer has the right to take legal action to protect their interests.

Legal Procedures for Default

In the event of non-payment by the buyer, the developer may notify the DLD regarding the default. The DLD will then issue a 30-day notice to the buyer, giving them an opportunity to fulfill their payment obligations. Before serving this notice, the DLD may attempt to resolve the dispute amicably between the buyer and the developer.

If the buyer still fails to make the required payments within the stipulated time frame, the DLD will issue a document confirming the percentage of completion of the off-plan property. Based on this percentage, the developer can initiate legal actions against the buyer without resorting to the courts or arbitration.

Potential Actions by the Developer

Upon default by the buyer, the developer has several options to address the situation:

  1. Retaining Payments: The developer may choose to retain the payments made by the buyer and demand the remaining balance of the purchase price.
  2. Sale by Auction: Alternatively, the developer can opt to sell the property by auction through the DLD. Any excess funds obtained from the auction will be refunded to the buyer.
  3. Termination of SPA: In some cases, the developer may unilaterally terminate the SPA and retain a portion of the purchase price based on the percentage of completion of the property. The remaining balance will be refunded to the buyer within the specified time frame.

Legal Recourse for Default

Buyers should be aware that developers have legal recourse to pursue unpaid amounts through execution proceedings. Therefore, defaulting on payments can have serious consequences and may result in legal action being taken against the buyer.


While buying off-plan properties in Dubai offers lucrative opportunities, it’s crucial for buyers to fulfill their financial obligations as per the SPA. Defaulting on payments can lead to legal complications and financial losses for the buyer. Therefore, it’s advisable for buyers to carefully review the terms of the SPA and ensure they can meet their payment obligations before entering into any agreement.

By understanding the legal procedures and potential consequences of defaulting on payments, buyers can make informed decisions and mitigate risks when investing in off-plan properties in Dubai.

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