The Court of Appeals (CA) has found the Ty-blings’ Federal Land guilty of false advertising for turning over a defective condominium unit to two foreign buyers who spent P16.3 million on what they thought would be a dream home.
The CA’s Tenth Division junked Federal Land’s petition to reverse a ruling of the Human Settlements Adjudication Commission (HSAC), which sided with petitioners John Martin and Elsie Shillingford.
The HSAC previously ruled that Federal Land committed “patent irregularities, bad faith, and unsound real estate business practice” when it turned over a defective condominium unit to the Shillingfords at the Marco Polo Residences in Cebu City, which was built by the GT Capital subsidiary. The company was ordered to refund repair expenses and the full cost of the property to the couple.
According to the Shillingfords’ complaint, they initially bought a four-bedroom unit but downgraded into a three-bedroom unit after they found their initial choice to be below expectations and different from what was shown to them by realtors.
The Shillingfords paid in full when they accepted Unit 1911 and one parking slot, but they were not given a deed of absolute sale and an original copy of the title.
“When Unit 1911 was turned over to them, they were shocked, dismayed and heartbroken to discover that their actual kitchen was a far cry from the model kitchen at the [petitioner’s] showroom,” the CA said.
The Shillingfords also found multiple defects in their unit, with only one ceiling light working in a bathroom, drainages unsuitable for certain appliances, few electrical outlets and poor plumbing. There were also no ready-to-use TV points, sockets, and a glass divider in the shower, contrary to what they had been promised.
The couple said it also took a while to secure a water connection, and when they got it, the water leaked and seeped through the pipes to their walls.
The Shillingfords said Federal Land failed to disclose their plan to put up three more condominium buildings in the compound, which blocked the scenic views from their property.
In upholding the HLURB’s ruling, the CA said Federal Land’s petition to overturn the earlier decision was baseless, noting that the property developer violated the law with the delayed turnover of the condo owner’s title.
Federal Land committed false advertising, the court ruled.
“The floor plans published on the website of petitioners indicated that the condominium unit purchased by respondents has a city/sea view, and that, under Section 19 of PD No. 957, would form part of the sales warranties of petitioner,” the CA said.
“Respondents relied on these advertisements in deciding to purchase a condominium unit from petitioner. Since the former reneged on its representations, then there was a clear violation of its warranties and representations,” the decision read.