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
Spanish Law 57/68 has been talked about a lot recently but there is a big mystery about this piece of legislation. It has been, and it will continue to be, the great unknown.
Law 57/68 goes back to the sixties and it’s one of the very few pieces of legislation from the day that remains in place. It came at of time of great demand for property and the lack of supply in the market, directing people to buy off-plan. Those were the days of the so called Spanish Economic Miracle, when millions of country folk flooded the cities looking for new prospects. As can be imagined some of these people were targets for the “ever present” unscrupulous developer, a “tradition” that has lived on almost everywhere. Something was to be done to protect the victim.
To be continued
Law 57/68: Permits buyers of off-plan property to directly make a claim to all those banks (not developers) who take in buyers deposits as long as the property is not finished or in all those cases where the property is finished but the contract is resolved before a final occupation licence is issued by the local authorities and/or that the buyers have been required to complete (and the property is not of the contracted standard).
Interpretation of this law has been perfected by the Supreme Court and it’s systematically applied in cases where there is a bank guarantee (general or individual) in favour of the buyer or where there is no such document.
It’s a technical legal procedure that requires the participation of a specialised legal firm with a wide knowledge and experience of civil and banking procedures.
Fernando Salmerón, August 2019.
LAW 57/68 NEW DEVELOPMENTS
A little over a year ago I wrote about a peculiar old law in Spain that could come very handy for those Moroccan Real Estate developers who channelled their money through the Spanish Banking System, whether it was to the developers themselves or the client’s lawyers.
There have been considerable developments since then and in the next few weeks I will be posting here with full fully and will try to guide the reader through the details and offer all the legal angles available.
Suffice to say for now that we are concerned here only with those Spanish developers who built in Morocco through a Moroccan subsidiary and only in those cases where client deposit was transferred to Spanish accounts
As I will be gradually deciphering this law in plain English, I think that the best thing would be to follow the blog for the next few weeks and you will be ongoingly notified automatically.
This piece of advice on the Moroccan market was very kindly written by Jorge Garcia Larios who is a property expert based in Melilla, a Spanish enclave in Morocco. It deals with the topic of developers that are experiencing financial difficulties but still maintain assets in the Kingdom of Morocco. The assets in question are usually in the form of land as most developers of unbuilt projects, at this stage, have little or no money.
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. The company’s flagship development, called Le Jardin de Fleur, was to be composed of Tourist 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 the works. The result of this sequence of events has left scores of derelict shells of what were to be luxury apartments and villas full of rats and weeds. It appears to be totally beyond repair at this stage.
To give Property Logic some credit, by comparison to other developers in the region they have been reasonable at keeping up communications with their clients. Unfortunately most of these communications refer to the possibility of raising further funding to complete the project. This funding has always been ‘just around the corner’ but it has never materialised. The willingness to communicate is, however, more than has been shown by other developers in difficulty in coastal Morocco.
From 2004 to 2007, like many other areas, off plan purchases in tourist regions of Morocco experienced a huge boom. Many people came in contact with Property Logic’s high visibility marketing campaigns and it consequently attracted a lot of purchasers. The developer even persuaded some UK based Premier League footballers to invest in the resort. This obviously played very well in UK and Irish media outlets, succeeding in attracting even more buyers. Unfortunately nobody who bought has had deposits refunded, which amount to around 40% of the original property sales price.
Property Logic Payment Structure
Clients reserved their properties with a token deposit which was followed by around 20% of the total cost. Over what was to be the initial construction stage a further 20% was requested at which stage came the signing of a private contract loosely translated from French as “a promise to sell”. Under Moroccan Property Law all these contracts have now expired and, as they were written to favour the developer, they are not robust enough to offer their holders any protection in law. Essentially, the beneficiary names don’t appear officially anywhere in Morocco. There is no legal reference to them so the Moroccan authorities know nothing about them, despite their having parted with significant amounts of money and now having nothing to show for it.
What can clients do?
There are essentially two things you can do. Be passive or be active.
The First Option – Do Nothing and hope Property Logic delivers
The passive route is to wait and hope that Property Logic obtains long promised funding. This is highly unlikely but the building licence has now also expired so the developer would now need to re-apply for a new one. Property Logic also has a good deal of creditors with liens on the company assets who will need to be dealt with before any building is contemplated. To clear the creditor list Property Logic will require the ‘main levé’ from its creditors (literally translated as ‘hands up’ or ‘surrender’ from French. This is a legal document enabling the developer to clear the creditor list. It involves all creditors signing away their legal rights. No strong creditors will do this unless they are happy with the negotiated settlement. Those without rights will be left out in the shuffle, relying totally on Property Logic’s goodwill.
Another matter of concern is that it has been mooted that the company is not held in high esteem by Moroccan Authorities. It is widely considered that the Moroccan government is anxious to see the back of the company and others like them. This makes the possibility of obtaining a new build licence very slim indeed.
Second Option – Become a Creditor of Property Logic
The second and more active option open to clients is that, if they are not already official creditors they should consider very seriously becoming one. Why should a client go to the bother of doing this? As stated previously, contracts with Property Logic are now pretty much worthless. It is almost inevitable that Property Logic will eventually drop out of the equation and whoever takes over will no choice but to deal with the creditor list. Those who are not officially listed as creditors will simply be forgotten about. It’s not an ideal scenario for many clients as it involves reliving the nightmare of the investment and it is obviously going to involve extra expense.
We will deal with the process of becoming a creditor of Property Logic (or any other developer for that matter) in a later article.
Jorge Larios can be contacted at email@example.com.
Le Jardin de Fleur (Saïdia)
Le Jardin De Fleur was supposed to be the flagship development within the macro-complex Mediterrania-Saïdia in turn one of the prototype state-of-the-art resorts planned under the umbrella of the Plan Azur 2010 tourism and infrastructures programs designed to quadruple the number of tourist to Morocco.
LJDF was, indeed, an ambitious project that even won some prestigious design awards. It’s variety of apartments, townhouses, villas and Riad style villas all built over 11 different plots ascended to 1342 units. The project also made a provision for in-house facilities such as sporting infrastructure, spas together with cafés and restaurants in addition to that available at the overall resort per se. In those boom years of the first decade of the 21st Century it naturally attracted a good number of International Investors and Private buyers with considerable success.
With the onset of the World Financial Crisis building works stopped in 2009 as it seemed that some of their funding partners went bankrupt and nothing has been done on the building front since then as the developer have found it difficult to raise finance despite impressive associations with leading players in the field and subsequent near misses. 2009 was also the very same year the King of Morocco, HM Mohammed VI, officially opened the rest of the macro-project which had and still has his backing. You have to feel for the Moroccan authorities who have fervently supported the launch of their country as a first class tourist and residential destination and to see some foreign developers, as it is not the only case, start and stop in mid-flight leaving thousands of bona-fide investors stranded coupled with the cost in image for the country as a whole.
Developers Property Logic had a clever marketing strategy, we all thought it a masterstroke at the time getting high-profile premiership players such as John Terry and Rio Ferdinand amongst others to do promotional work for them in return for discounted properties at LJDF worked at first but backfired later. It must have proven very embarrassing for the players so much so that the story was featured in an article in the Daily Mail in April 2013. The developer also collected considerable sums from off-plan deposits paid by buyers, a good number of them British including 25 footballers mentioned but there were other nationalities too. All of them are now with nothing to show for their investment and a great deal of frustration.
Property Logic published their last update also in April 2013 in all probability provoked by the newspaper article. This humble blogger has also tried to contact Sean Cusack, one of the directors there without success. The only information I have is what it’s published together with what I see on the ground in Saïdia and comments made by investors and buyers.
In the newsletter the developer admits that about 50 buyers have taken legal action in Morocco against them and insist that they are going to finish the development. They claim to have invested 10.5 million Euros with 60 or so million provided by the buyers in off-plan deposits. Two thirds of the 70 million went towards land purchase, construction and licenses with the rest going into design, marketing, sales and agent’s commissions.
The 10.5 million euro said to have been invested by the developer, was according to the update, invested by Estonian businessman, Margus Reinsalu through his company KC Group who are also active in other developments in Brazil. There are two further partners involved in Property Logic according to the April 2013 newsletter, the aforementioned Sean Cusack and one Joop Huisman. As KC’s initial loan was not repaid they took over the majority of the shares according to a certain 2009 agreement when building stopped. However Cusack and Huisman appear to still have the option of to reclaim their original equal 2.6 million euro stake in the venture. Property Logic Invest (Spain) also has equal interests in the project with KC, Cusack and Huisman as members of the board.
The Mediterrania-Saïdia resort as a whole is about 45% complete as we write in October 2013. It is now under the control of CDG an important Moroccan Company specialized in the field who intend to finish off the resort including the 9 luxury hotels originally planned. At present there are only 3 hotels operating but they have not fulfilled their intended grand role to cater for the international jet set with many that would have arrived in their luxury yachts at the Marina from places like Monaco and Marbella. Just one look at the hotels gives an indication of how things have changed for the worse. They close their doors in winter and its summer clientele are tour groups and civil servant from nearby Melilla on weekend outings. 50 or 60 euro all in will give you a stay in a supposedly five star grand luxe, gin tonics in plastic cups notwithstanding.
At the very least both Reinsalu and CDG are saying that they intend to finish off their respective projects. Obviously CDG have it easier as they are one of the biggest operators in Morocco and still have the backing of the government and the Monarch. Nevertheless Property Logic are keeping their clients informed from time to time even if it is to say that they have nearly missed yet another important funding scenario or that they have joined up forces with some big fish investor from a far off land. Credit has to be given to them though which is more than you can say for other foreign investors/developers.
If you are a disgruntled investor in LJDF what are your options?
1.) Sit pretty and hope that PL’s messages become a reality that is to say you are going to finally get the property you’ve bought. Better late than never as they say.
2.) Politely ask for a refund that you are not going to get. No money.
3.) The logical antidote for this type of situation, not the panacea but at least you will be protected is to take legal action and get a Moroccan Court to allow for a lien to be inserted against the assets of Property Logic Morocco. This is a type of preventive embargo that will secure your rights if there are any negative official movements against PL, exactly what the 50 or so people that the newsletter mentioned did, they will not get their money back immediately but they have their name officially recognized as a creditor. For more information about legal action see my articles of August 2013 at the beginning of the blog.
The worst case scenario would be that any potential negative official movements bypass the original buyers. A lien will safeguard your interests as the hypothetical new owners would need to take creditors legally into consideration before they do anything else. Let’s hope that this doesn’t happen, for everybody’s sake including Property Logic themselves.
Property Logic Newsletter 05.04.2013
The Daily Mail