Ask the Agent - What is an owners association?

Ask the Agent - What is an owners association?John Stevens

- What is an owners association? What are its duties and responsibilities as per the RERA law?

A homeowners association or owners association is a joint membership of the owners of a specific property.

The main duties of the association are to supervise, manage and control the property's common areas and assets for the collective benefit of the owners, and evenly and fairly enforce the Jointly Owned Property Declaration (JOPD), including community rules, to promote harmony and a sense of belonging among owners and occupiers of units.

All in all, the owners association makes sure that the property owners and occupiers get what they pay for.

Owners are, thus, encouraged to attend meetings to see how they can help in making the association more effective and beneficial to all.

- Do owners association's rules differ from community to community or property to property? If yes, why are there changes in the norms and how do they differ?

The owners association enforces the rules set out in the JOPD for a specific property.

The JOPD sits beneath the general directions and regulations which include a generic constitutional document which provides uniform regulations across properties.

The structure of the property and the preferences of the OA will subsequently affect the differing JOPDs.

Without going into too much detail, most properties differ in structure and design which, in some cases, subsequently affect how the property is to be managed and what rules are to be applied.

A mixed-use property will have differing rules compared to a single-use property. A property in one zonal area may have differing rules compared to another and so on.

- What are the current common norms and rules that the owners association sets for the property users, both owners and tenants?

The owner of a unit will have obligations set out by the JOPD and regulations of Dubai such as how much and how often he/she makes payments for service charges, or the requirement to submit correspondence details or follow certain procedures for alterations in the property. These directly involve the owner, but not usually the tenant.

There are also more general community rules and management procedures wherein, through the binding effect of the unit being part of the association, the tenants of a unit are obliged to follow the exact same rules as the original owner is obligated to through the SPA or JOPD.

These rules are meant to promote harmonious relationships among owners and occupiers.

- Why do tenants need to thoroughly learn and know the different owners association rules?

In general, what all residents want is a peaceful enjoyment of their place of residence.

The rules of the association are formed to provide a statement and a foundation on how to achieve it in the most efficient and painless manner that will suit all owners so there is uniformity each and every time.

Non-compliance to the association's rules and regulations will lead to penalties.

Property owners are advised to be proactive and get involved with their association so they get updated on the latest developments in their building in terms of maintenance and the like.

Lack of interest may lead to poor management of the association, which may result in the deterioration of the property and the decrease in its value.

Therefore, being aware and showing interest in the activities of the association contributes a lot to the proper maintenance of the property.

- Question of the Week: How can the owners association's norms impact a tenant or a property owner's lifestyle?

How a certain development's owners association affects the individual property owner's lifestyle is all in the detail.

One person's lifestyle maybe easily accommodated while at the same time another's maybe compromised.

In a jointly-owned property in a multicultural setting such as Dubai, it is often illustrated how different one person can be to the next while living on the very same floor.

Examples of norms, yet in the same instance highlighting another person's dissimilarities, could be in the form of barbecues, pets, the timings for the exclusive use of recreational or leisure facilities such as gyms and pools, night shift working hours, families, playtime, among others.

At a more macro level though, the norms stipulated by each owners association go some way to provide easy living and a good lifestyle to the majority of the property owners or occupiers so that a harmonious environment is achieved.

Source: John Stevens, Special to Freehold

The writer is Managing Director - Asteco

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