The short answer to the question of why the Irish are most sensitive to the payment of fees is “due to a lack of confidence in the investor”, and the explanation lies in the long history of “Sunset Resort”. It started in 2001, when a group of Irish citizens deposited between 15 and 50 thousand euros each to buy apartments in the future “Pomorie Golf and Beach Resort” – a complex with a hotel, villas, casinos, golf course, swimming pools and courts by the sea. They buy either directly from the investor – the Dutch Capital Ground and Building Investment VN, or through the Irish real estate agency Platinum Developments. The prices are 1,000 – 1,200 euros per square meter even then, and the start-up date is 2004. The project looks very promising. Pomorie Municipality is proud of him. She sold more than 50 municipal acres for BGN 1.6 million directly to the investor, who is now said to have been connected to the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs. The investor promises to invest BGN 50 million in the gated apartment complex. The model was new and unknown at that time for the Bulgarian Black Sea coast.
Construction began in 2003 but stopped in 2004, well before the resort was ready. Now it is said that the managers ran away with the collected money. Some of them – in Australia, others were arrested in Bulgaria. More than 400 small investors faced the risk of losing 12 million euros in total. The Dutch state sold the project to Platinum Developments. They formed a sort of association of property buyers to sell, build and maintain the complex. One of them was the current investor Boyan Bonev – a long-time concessionaire of the beach “Nessebar South” through his company “Siroko”.
In 2008, the complex was completed. Although years later, the first green buyers become owners and have the consciousness of co-investors in the complex. In 2009, the investment company “Sunset Resort” Ltd. was transformed into a joint-stock company. One by one, the Irish members of the Platinum Developments team are retiring, and in 2010 only one of them – Aaron Tracy – has shares in the company. Boyan Bonev and his people take over the entire management of the complex and it has been so for the last 11 years.
Owners fighting for owners
In the same year 2010, representatives of 36 apartments, worried about the development of the resort and the levels of profitability they achieve, established in Dublin The Sunset Resort International Owners Committee (SRIOC) under the slogan “Owners working for owners – Owners fighting for owners “. Over time, it grew to over 400 owners of all nationalities who bought apartments at Sunset Resort.
They believe that Sunset Resort has the potential to be a premier vacation resort for condo owners and vacationers alike. And if it has failed to live up to its 5-star status, it is because of the way it is run, the committee’s website makes clear. According to them, the management company and the developer manage it mostly for their own benefit at the expense of the resort itself and the apartment owners. According to them, the entrepreneur wants to achieve the maximum return for himself and does not invest enough in the maintenance of the complex, mainly because he pays his debts to the banks with the collected funds. They counter that he has raised their maintenance fees and reduced the rents – presumably those they receive from the management company for renting out their flats. Overall, they find that there is a conflict of interest in that even with a completed resort, management and management and maintenance fees remain under the developer’s control. At that time, of course, he even controls the owner’s access to his apartment, because he holds the keys to the entrance to the corresponding residential section.
SRIOC registers a company in Bulgaria and appoints a legal advisor. In the period 2009-2010, he led cases against the investor Boyan Bonev, and the liens on some of them have not yet been removed by document. As it seems, he manages to win back some of his demands. The relations with the investor begin to be regulated according to the general rules of the ŽUES, and not contractually. The common parts of the complex are separated in the company for greater transparency in costs. In addition, they win back being able to rent out their apartments not only through the management company of the resort, but also themselves, through platforms, and through other management companies. What they fail to achieve is the installation of individual electricity and water meters, which depends on third parties – the respective companies.
The relationship seems to be hitting a rut, and until the pandemic, things are going relatively smoothly. However, at Sunset Resort, as well as in many other vacation complexes, more and more owners refuse to pay maintenance fees after they do not use the apartments. And investors increasingly need to be convinced that gardens, pools and common areas require constant care, and this comes at a cost.
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