May – Home buyers, Keep Fighting Amongst Execution


Despite losing case at constitutional inquiry, May has reopened the battle anew




May Real Estate has opened a new court case to reclaim outstanding payments from its homebuyers, while at the same time handing over 24 apartments to owners as ordered by court.

The buyers have now received the apartment units, which are almost completed and located in a prime area, right behind the ECA compound and flanked by several high end hotels, including Radisson Blu and the new Elilly International Hotel. There are five different 10-storey buildings, and prices for a unit range from 800,000 Br to 2.3 million Br. In addition to the housing units, the premises are to feature parking, a rooftop, swimming pool, a clubhouse and a gym, according to the agreement.

This will be the second episode of years-long battle between the real estate company and its subscribed home buyers.

The court case began in 2011 when the home buyers, most of them Diaspora Ethiopians, sued the company for allegedly failing to deliver their homes within the stipulated time, and also for raising the prices of the housing units in violation of the contract.

The developer argued that the delay and rising costs were due to a combination of the difficulty of working on the rocky land and a shortage of foreign currency, as well as a price increase in the construction materials.

The home buyers declined the offer to renegotiate the original price and sued. Different courts ruled for the home buyers including the cassation bench of the Federal Supreme court.

Though the courts gave differing reasons for their decision, they all ordered May to handover the units in a condition they were. May’s right to reclaim outstanding payment was reserved.

The real estate developer, facing a setback in law interpreting body has moved the case to constitutional interpreting body, claiming that the court decisions were unconstitutional, transgressing constitutional rights, including ordering forced labor, right to property, and freedom of contract. The call for constitutional interpretation however dropped with unanimous vote at the Inquirys hearing earlier in .2016.

In June of the same year, the 9th Civil Bench of the Federal High Court ordered for the execution of the decision of the Cassation Bench, after May’s effort at the Council of Constitutional Inquiry remained futile. Home buyers’ last week took possession of their claimed apartment units, while May’s claim of unpaid dues remains.

May has filed with the 15th Civil Court a demand that 24 home buyers collectively pay a total of 25 million Br. The real estate company claims that the 24 home buyers have not yet made full payments for the apartment units it agreed to deliver. Each of the 24 people have to perform the remaining payments, May demands.

The home buyers challenged the injunction request presented by May arguing that the 25 million Br request should not prevent the delivery of the apartment units to the home buyers. Despite the fact that the opposing claims cannot be setoff, the home buyers argued, the title deeds of the apartment units are still in the name of May.

May added that each of the homebuyers has also to make payments for the lease expenses it has incurred to for the land on which the structures are built, and pay for certain modification/improvements made on the design and communal facilities the real estate developer provides, including elevator, stand-by generator, and parking plots, which were not included in the price quoted for the apartment units and the home buyers agreed to pay to.

The company also indicated in its suit that the homebuyers, in the Cassation Bench decision, have agreed to take the risks if the apartment is mortgaged to a bank. May, in its suit, claims that it has paid 8 million Br to a bank for the unoccupied apartment units when it was mortgaged.

After hearing the defence presented by the homebuyers, the court has adjourned the trial for 16th of Nov, 2016 to hear oral arguments of the parties.

Even after facing huge setback at every stage of the court hearing Yoseph Mebrahtu, who once said  la luta continua (the struggle continues), opening up a new chapter from scratch.



By HAWAZ MERAWI
FORTUNE STAFF WRITER

Published on Nov 15,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 863]


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