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The developer has delayed the completion of my property. What can I do?

Property Law

Antonio Flores Vila

29th of January 2001

Q. Property - The contract stated June 2000 for completion. Completion is now due end of February 2001. The contract demands 1% interest (per month) on outstanding payments (if we are late in paying, but there is no mention of what happens if the builder is late on delivery).
  • Are we entitled to any compensation for late delivery and / or rental losses ?
  • As our solicitor checked and advised us that the contract was O.K. and is now saying that it is our problem to sue the builder, is there anything we can do ?
Any help greatly appreciated.

James Kinghorn and Family
United Kingdom

    A. Contracts signed with developers are standard contract and you or your lawyer are practically unable to change the provision contained therein. The developer tends to impose their own contract, and it is usually littered with abusive conditions. The one you mention is one of them.

    Fortunately, there are consumer regulations which albeit being seldom enforced, as you need to go to court, are in fact a negotiating tool which can be used to persuade the developer to compromise on compensations.

    I am not aware of recent jurisprudence on this respect, but one of the points of the Consumer Protection Act is that clauses which create an imbalance between parties to the disadvantage of the consumer and are not equivalent are null and void.

    Some buyers are reluctant to proceed against the developer as they think that it may have a retaliatory effect on the finishings of the property. This should not prevent buyers from proceeding against the developer if they think they are in breach of contract.

    If you have bank guarantee covering downpayments, as your legal representative should have demanded, you could threaten to cash those guarantees due to late completion. It is a possibility open to you. An out of court approach to the matter has to be decided on view of the particulars of the deal. If this does not work out, you are able to sue the builder/developer.

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