Country Garden Danga Bay condo buyers, including S'porean investors, sue developer for fraud and misrepresentation
SINGAPORE / JOHOR BAHRU — Dozens of disgruntled owner, including Singaporean investors, are taking out a class action lawsuit against Johor developer Country Garden Danga Bay over fraud and misrepresentation, with the trial set to begin on Wednesday (Aug 3).
- A group of 49 buyers, including Singaporean investors, have taken out a class action lawsuit against Johor developer Country Garden Danga Bay
- The hearing starts on Wednesday
- They are alleging that the developer's luxury condominium in Malaysia was not delivered as advertised
- Their sales and purchase contracts were also amended after buyers signed them, they claim
SINGAPORE / JOHOR BAHRU — Dozens of disgruntled owners, including Singaporean investors, are taking out a class action lawsuit against Johor developer Country Garden Danga Bay over fraud and misrepresentation, with the trial set to begin on Wednesday (Aug 3).
The 49 buyers — from Singapore, Malaysia and China — are alleging that units of the developer's luxury condominium in South Johor's economic zone of Iskandar Malaysia were not delivered as advertised, one Singaporean investor told TODAY.
They are claiming that the developer made changes to their sales and purchase agreements after the buyers had signed them.
The group of buyers are seeking compensation, though the sum they are seeking was not immediately clear.
The Danga Bay condo development is located in the Iskandar region in Johor Bahru, some 10 minutes' drive from the Malaysian immigration checkpoint. It has more than 9,000 apartments on the waterfront, with sizes ranging from 400 sqf to 1,400 sqf.
The sprawling development consists of amenities including a mall, a man-made beach and six yacht berths.
When the luxury development was launched in 2013, an elaborate campaign was mounted to woo Singapore buyers, featuring fun-fair rides, fireworks displays and free yacht trips at the showflat site.
During the official launch, more than 5,000 of the 7,000 units on offer were sold, with 30 per cent of them snapped up by Singaporeans, the developer said then.
The Danga Bay development was the first overseas venture by Chinese developer Country Garden through its subsidiary Country Garden Danga Bay.
It has since launched another project named Forest City, comprising four reclaimed islands just across the Johor Strait from Tuas totalling 1,740ha — or roughly 1.25 times the size of Singapore's Ang Mo Kio town.
The ongoing trial at the Johor Bahru Civil High Court is scheduled for four days — two days in August and another two in September.
Some of the buyers, including Singaporean investors, are set to give their witness statements on Wednesday.
The lawsuit was first filed in 2018. The proceedings were delayed after Country Garden Danga Bay unsuccessfully applied to strike out some of the plaintiffs. The case was pushed back further due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The class action lawsuit is believed to be the biggest case brought against the Johor developer so far.
PREVIOUS COURT CASES INVOLVING DEVELOPER
Country Garden Danga Bay has been embroiled in other court cases in the past.
In July 2021, the Malaysian Court of Appeal dismissed the developer’s appeal for a judicial review, upholding the decision of the Kuala Lumpur High Court and the Tribunal of Homebuyers Claims to award damages to seven buyers over late delivery of their apartments, business news outlet The Edge Markets reported.
Some of the buyers received their apartments more than four years late.
The tribunal had previously awarded the property owners between RM13,834.78 (S$4,288) and RM32,682.26 in damages for the late delivery.
The developer then applied for permission to appeal to the Federal Court but the case was dismissed in April and Country Garden Danga Bay was ordered to pay a total sum of RM50,000 in costs to the seven homeowners.
In a separate case, the Federal Court in May allowed an appeal by the developer to quash a compensatory award given by the Tribunal for Homebuyer Claims to a Singaporean buyer, Malaysian news agency Bernama reported.
The buyer, Mr Ho Chee Kian, had claimed that when he bought his apartment, the developer’s showroom showed that his unit would include a covered balcony. But when he received the unit, the balcony was not covered.
He filed a claim with the tribunal for a RM50,000 compensation for being given the wrong unit. The tribunal awarded Mr Ho the sum in 2018.
The property developer appealed to the High Court, then the Court of Appeal — both were dismissed. The Federal Court, the highest court of the land, eventually allowed the appeal and ordered Mr Ho to pay RM30,000 in costs.
Two Singaporeans who bought units at Country Garden Danga Bay told TODAY that their apartments had several defects when they received them around 2018 and that the condo continues to require extensive repairs because of poor upkeep.
Both asked not to be named because they were worried that their comments would further affect the value of their properties.
Tony (not his real name), a retiree in his 50s, said that owners of the estate often complain about water marks on the ceilings due to leakages.
Adam (not his real name), a 49-year-old businessman, said that the insides of his kitchen cabinets had no backing and were exposed to the wall.
Several metal hinges in his apartment had rusted and many of the tiles around the estate were defective or badly stained, he claimed.
Just three weeks ago, he tagged along with some personnel from the management team on an inspection and witnessed a burst sewage pipe in one of the apartments.
The sewage flooded the unit and excrement could be seen flowing out of the pipe.
And just on Monday, the water supply went out because of a burst pipe and owners were told that it could not be fixed immediately because the maintenance team did not have the right parts, Adam said. He bought his apartment for RM1.6 million (S$490,000) with the intention of living in it after retirement.
“It’s like buying a Ferrari but getting a Proton instead,” he said.