Tag Archives: Courts

COMPOSITION OF THE LAW

It is composed of very few articles, seven in all, but has the moral superiority of legal precedent behind it.

It established certain responsibilities for developers and builders who sold off plan, one of these responsibilities was the opening of separate bank accounts to receive customer deposits only, keeping this well apart from day to day transactions. Disposal of funds only had one aim, the progressive funding of construction.

Another interesting disposition, specially, for the time, was the necessity for (the developer) client’s funds held at the developer’s bank, to be fully protected by an insurance policy and/or a bank guarantee. It, therefore, created a responsibility upon the bank or insurance company who were now responsible for reimbursing the deposits to the buyer should there have been a breach of contract on the part of the developer.

This new burden for the bank or the insurance company made it harder for the developer to obtain finance as conditions were hardened. It meant that only the most reliable / reputable developers managed to obtain funding as the bank would in turn ask for guarantees or collateral.

This naturally and accidently lead to the bank or insurance company to be extra zealous when it came to be supervising the application of funds by their developer clients.

As things settled into place and the house market consolidated, this supervision was somewhat relaxed and there was a time during the various boom years that nobody gave this law any thought at all, although banks and insurance companies were still required by law to issue guarantees to individual buyers.

To be continued

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INTRODUCTION

The law is a pioneer, at least in Spain, before it, there was nothing to protect buyers off-plan, not that there were so many of them at them, but the signs of the times created a kind of gold rush por property.

The spirit of the legislation is to stop abuses committed by developers against, sometimes, vulnerable people who paid them deposits bona fide, and to stop “the justified social alarm in public opinion provoked by repeated misuses even with misdemeanour that are present” or so said the legislator of the day. The legal measure pretended to arm buyers with guarantees when paying considerable funds, sometimes their lives savings, to developers for an off-plan sales contract. These builders and promotors frequently delivered the product late, sometimes years, or not finishing it at all. It looks that things have not changed much.

 

 

TYPES OF MOROCCAN DEVELOPERS

PROPERTY DEVELOPERS TYPE 2 (MOROCCO)

 

As a result of the world financial crisis and the subsequent Real Estate Market slowdown in many countries, Morocco’s recent start in the second home market wasn’t to be an exception. As in many other places in the Mediterranean, Demand exceeded Supply leading the purchasers to buy off-plan. When the inevitable happened, Developers found that they couldn’t continue building works leaving thousands of people without their property or their money. This resulting fiasco has produced a scenario whereby stranded Property Developers in Morocco can be classified in three very different categories:

My breakdown could be put as follows:

Type 1 are those who have been through financial difficulties but have still managed to stay afloat in one way or another. Here the quality of their final product is way below the promised result and/or they have not dealt with contract cancelations from clients is a satisfactory way. It is possible to take legal action for breach of contract against this group as some still have sufficient cash-flow. However there is a tendency for feet dragging and in most cases a total unpreparedness to settle matters with purchasers in a professional and efficient way. The old Fadesa-Maroc and subsequent associations come to mind (Alkudia-Smir in Tetouan and Med-Saidïa amongst others).

Jumping over to Type 3: Here we simply don’t know the current state of things, communication is inexistent and an air of suspicion is present overall. Here, Playa Vista also in Tetouan is firmly under this heading.

I’ve left Type 2 for the end in order to develop in more detail. This corresponds to those developers that are experiencing financial difficulties but still maintain assets in the Kingdom of Morocco. The assets we are talking about are usually in the form of land.

One such developer is/was Property Logic Maroc S.A.R.L a subsidiary of Property Logic (Spain) based near Marbella in the Costa del Sol. Their flagship development was to be called Le Jardin des Fleurs to be composed of Touristic Apartments and Villas over various plots of land at the Macro Resort “Mediterrania-Saïdia”

Property Logic stopped building some time ago and have ever since been seeking Finance to continue building but have been unsuccessful so far. The result of this sequence of events have left an eyesore of derelict shells of what were to be luxury apartments and villas. It is now full of rats and overgrown vegetation. For many it is totally beyond repair at this stage.

To give Property Logic some credit they have been reasonably in touch with their clients and every time has transmitted through the message that funding was just around the corner which of course never came. This preparedness to show up in difficult times is more that you can say for other developers.

As it was the case during the property boom in the country from 2004 to 2007 buying off plan was the flavour of the month. There were hundreds of people answering Property Logic’s aggressive marketing campaigns and many did buy. One such successful campaign was persuading some premier league top professional footballers to buy at the resort. This was given top exposure in the media by the company’s spin doctors and succeeded in attracting many more buyers. It was a very clever tactic that later backfired. Unfortunately none of the people who bought has had their deposits returned, around 30% of the original sales price.

Property Logic’s Payment Structure

 

Clients reserved their properties with a token deposit which was followed by around 15% of the total cost. Over what was to be the construction stage a further 15% was deposited until reaching around 30% of the total cost and the signing of a private contract loosely translated from the French as “A Promise to Sell”. Again, here we have the regretful circumstance that these contracts have all expired under Moroccan Property Law and that they are not robust enough to offer their holders any protection in law. In other words, having a private nature only between developer and client, the beneficiary’s names don’t appear officially anywhere in Morocco. The authorities know nothing about these people who have parted with their hard earned cash and have nothing to show for it.

What is there for clients to do?

 

  1. Wait and hope that Property Logic obtains their long awaited funding. Apart from being a miracle we have the little matter that their build licence has also long expired and they would need to re-apply for a new one. They also have a good sprinkling of creditors inscribed on their assets and these people will have to be dealt with before doing so, that is to say they will demand a settlement which usually is tailor made in line with their demands and which may not only include their nominal investment back but also compensation and legal fees. To clear the creditor list Property Logic will require the “main levé” from their creditors. This is literally (The) “hands up” from the French and it’s a legal document that will enable the developer to clear that creditor list, basically the client signing away their legal rights. Of course a creditor will not dream of doing this until they are happy with their negotiated settlement. This goes for every single creditor, no one has to appear in the infamous list. No prizes for guessing that those without legal rights will no doubt be left out in the shuffle unless Property Logic’s goodwill say so otherwise. Take you pick. Another haunting matter for Property Logic is the fact that they are not exactly in the Moroccan Authorities good books. Although not officially, the grapevine here on the ground suggests the eagerness of Morocco to see the back of them and others like them. You can jump onto your own conclusions whether a new build licence will be granted or not.
  1. If clients are not already creditors they should consider very seriously becoming one. Why? As stated above their contracts are now virtually worthless. Property Logic may eventually drop out of the equation and whoever takes over will surely deal with the creditor list first (they have no choice) and certainly leave the rest who are not creditors out. They have the right to do so, after all the client is registered nowhere in Morocco. The way things work in the country this is a 100% bet. Yes, there are expenses and this is risk the client would need to take but what is the alternative?

How does one become a creditor?

 

A Moroccan Lawyer needs be appointed and documents submitted. Depending on the lawyer a full or partial provision of funds may be requested at the same time.

The objective is the insertion of a protective charge on the assets of the developer for the value of their investment, a legal instrument called a lien.

The lien is in the name of the client and duly registered under the plot of land the property was to be built. The client gets a copy of the court ruling in their favour. This is stamped with the official seal of the Land Registry.

The client is now an official creditor of Property Logic and appears in Moroccan Official Documents for the first time since they bought.

It is important to know that purchasers will not get their money back on the strength of the lien itself. This is only a safeguard should there be a takeover by a third party. After the lien is registered the holder will simply have to wait until matters develop further. This is Part II and a separate issue altogether from the above.

Jorge Larios

Notting Hill Inversiones (Melilla)

saidia@gmx.es