The law is on the side of the residents of Trivelis. They can consider suing the developer for making misleading or false claims, for failing to provide goods that conform with the contract, or they could sue under general contract law for breach of contract.
When buying a house, people assume that the showroom or showflat is an accurate representation of what they will eventually get (unless the developer explicitly says otherwise). They then make their purchasing decision on the basis of what they see in the showflat, as well as based on what the developer promises. When they make the deal, they enter into a contractual agreement where the buyer will pay the sum agreed upon and the developer will provide the product as displayed.
If developers do not deliver what buyers have paid for, they must offer a partial refund or ensure that the defect is permanently fixed. This is a fundamental ethical and legal principle for any business. Unfortunately, the Trivelis developer, EL development, does not seem to be aware of this. It thinks the insulting offer of a pathetic washing machine and a “goodwill package” will be enough. It doesn’t even seem interested in addressing residents’ complaints as the media reports have shown. It has refused to attend meetings, ignored emails and even claimed that residents were getting emotional.
Of course residents are getting emotional. The defects are quite severe.
One major defect is the ugly, exposed, sewage pipe that stands out and makes the entire room look ugly. This will certainly affect the resale value of the house. Offering an extended warranty doesn’t fix this problem at all, since the problem is not with the sewage pipe bursting (although it could). The problem is with the space it takes up and the fact that you will have to stare at it for the rest of your life. EL Development admits that this sewage pipe was not present in the showflat but it claims it has met all the requirements of the Sales and Purchase Agreement. Perhaps residents should test this claim in court.
Another major defect is the easily shattered glass that is caused by impurities. EL Development thinks that sticking a sheet of plastic on it will help. Quite obviously, you can’t hold up glass with a sheet of plastic. Because of this, residents will have to live in fear that at any time they could accidentally knock the glass and it would break while they are in the shower. What happens then? Will EL Development compensate them for any injuries or loss of life?
I could go on and on about the narrow corridors, the easily stained kitchen countertops, the lousy fittings etc. Suffice to say, I think EL Development was cutting corners and now it is trying to shirk all responsibility.
Several examples show that EL Development is both ethically and legally at fault here.
According to CASE, in January this year, a man visited a watch shop to buy a stainless steel bracelet and a bi-colour bracelet for his watches, for $500. However, when he went to collect it in March, he found that the shop had provided a wrong model of stainless steel bracelet and the bi-colour bracelet was of an incorrect thickness. Mr Lim asked for a full refund and CASE made sure the watch shop gave him one, all $500.
In another case, in March 2013, a woman bought an automatic watch which later turned out to be a quartz watch. The sales person had misrepresented the product information to the buyer. The buyer then asked CASE for help and managed to get a full refund.
CASE highlighted that what the seller had done was illegal under the following Acts:
· CPFTA Section 4(a) – misleading claims
· CPFTA Section 4(b) – false claims
· CPFTA – Making false claims about the functionality or benefits of goods or services
· CPFTA Section 12A Lemon Law – Goods do not conform to contract
· Misrepresentation Act
· General Contract Law
These principles remain the same. EL Development should be held responsible for its actions. If the Government is not willing to do anything about it, residents may still choose to sue.