The Federal High Court’s Lideta Bench suspended the transfer of apartments built by Impero Real Estate Plc due to customers’ allegation of foul play by the company. Impero originally promised to deliver the homes within 22 months since entering agreement with clients between 2016 and 2019.
According to a court filing by 51 of the 88 buyers, the company entered an agreement with the clients to build apartments around Sar Bet area and deliver them at a cost ranging from 1.8 million birr to five million birr.
However, the company could not deliver the apartments to the clients even though most of them paid more than 90 percent of the amount required. The court filing states that the company is requiring additional payments from its clients, which are out of the contract they entered.
The clients also requested the court for substituted performance so that they can be allowed to complete the remaining finishing works on the apartments with all the costs covered by the company.
In contract law, substitute performance may apply to using an alternate method to one provided for in the contractual terms in order to fulfill the obligations under the contract, according to US Lega website.
But, according to Yalelet Teshome, the lawyer representing the clients, the land where the apartments were built is not owned by the company and it belonged to an individual. Hence, the lease right still remains with the individual.
The CEO of Impero, Nebil Muzeyin, admits that the houses were delayed but not because of problems from his side. He argues that the delay happened because the clients could not completely settle their payments early as stipulated in the agreements.
According to him, the clients agreed to pay in full so that his company could finish the apartments in time. However, the clients could not pay when the contract concluded. Others who agreed to pay in installments within a year or a year and a half did not finish the payments in time and that he says left him with only 26 million birr in payments from the clients.
“I did not ask them for money out of the agreement,” he said adding, “I asked for the remaining payments to be made.”
Regarding the lease rights, Nebil says he has paid the individual with the lease rights 17 million birr but the transfer could not be concluded because of recent suspensions of such transfers at the Documents Authentication and Registration Agency (DARO).
He also claimed to have lost more than 80 million birr because of the delayed payments, and is adamant the company is capable of finishing the apartments and deliver them, rather than the clients taking over and finishing it by themselves.
According to the lawyer of the home buyers, the construction of the twin 14 storey buildings is completed beyond 60 percent, which his clients are willing to take over and complete. This, he notes, is because of the financial crisis the company finds itself in.