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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Ecuadorian Contracts - Important Info!!!

We all know that things are different down here, or at least I would guess that most people have that understanding, but sometimes I forget and find myself surprised in certain circumstances.

Let's take a hypothetical situation - you're buying a new build house that has a late delivery clause. If the condo is supposed to be ready for occupancy on July 14th, but isn't ready the builder may agree to a financial penalty, most likely per day; say $20. (For arguments sake). You finally move in to your condo on the very first day it's ready for occupancy and that day is July 30th (I like easy math), that means that you should be getting a discount/refund of 17 x $20 = $340, right?

No, not necessarily. Even though this is a clause written in to the purchase agreement, if the builder doesn't pay it willingly you will need to sue him. So it comes to down to the question "is it worth it?" For $320? No. No, it isn't. 

Your lawyer might even explain to you that this is more of an "encouragement" clause, something that keeps your build on track and that you can fall back on if things really go south, say they owe you 300 days. That's assuming your contract doesn't include a way to get out of the purchase if the place isn't ready in 90/120 or however many days the property may be late. (It's possible you might have to sue to get your money back, as well, we never had to go that far.) When it was added (not at our request) we thought it was odd to have a late delivery clause...I mean, really, when has a new build ever completed on time? It seemed sort of un-Ecuadorian. Live and learn.

But it actually was a classic Ecuadorian lesson. As a people, they are notorious for agreeing to things that are completely impossible, or at the very least, improbable. I believe they really don't like conflict as a general rule and will say anything to avoid it. Now that we know there's no real way of enforcing verbal or even written agreements of this nature (without spending a load of money on legal fees etc.), the extranjero can be caught by surprise. Locals will be genuinely confused when you get upset with them for things of this nature, as this is standard practice here.
Okay...that's just funny!
What's the take away? Put those sorts of details in the contract, because you might actually need to act on it, but don't expect it to be an adjustment on the closing costs that you're lawyers follow up on. Consider yourself forewarned and always ask for clarification when talking about these finer points. Don't take anything for granted and be prepared to let some things go.

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