Investment Guides - Read about property matters

Investment Guides - Read about property mattersHelen Tatham

- In 2009, I bought a property for a project in Culture Village. Unfortunately, it wasn't developed due to a dispute between the society and the master developer, Dubai Properties. I have reached out to the developer on various occasions asking for an update on the property. They no longer provide responses. Where can I go for a factual position on the property? Given that real estate is booming, aren't the victims of the previous crash going to get anything?

I can totally sympathise with your position. I have dealt with a number of clients in similar situations.

First, you need to go to the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) to enquire about the status of the project. If a project has been officially cancelled, you need to speak to the liquidation section, but it sounds like it could still be active and, if so, you can apply for a technical report of its progress.

Before obtaining any pertinent information, though, you will need to produce documentation — such as the original Sale and Purchase Agreement and receipts — to show that you invested in the development. Depending on the outcome, you can register a complaint with Rera or get a lawyer to pursue it.

The reason behind the stalling of a project will determine whether you are dealing with civil or criminal offences. Any case of this nature can take months, if not years, to conclude and very rarely is it cut and dry. If you are prepared to conduct some research, establish whether the developer is still under the jurisdiction of the relevant courts and, if so, whether they have any money to compensate their investors. This would be to your advantage before subjecting yourself to significant legal fees.

Also try to find out if other investors have been successful in getting some of their money back and what sort of deal they got.

- I am planning to buy a one-bedroom apartment and its area has been defined by the developer as 672.85 sqft (unit area), 97.95 sqft (balcony) and 145.43 sqft (common area). It's total saleable area is 916.23 square foot. I will be paying per square feet as per the total saleable area. When I resell the apartment, will I be able to sell it with the same total saleable area and will this measurement be mentioned in the title deed?

You are buying direct from a developer and I assume that you are referring the wording and details of the Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA). Sometimes, the SPA will allocate a small part of the common area to an apartment, but you should question your developer about the proportion of which they are doing this. It is normally not more than 5 per cent of the total common area.

That aside, the title deed will be issued with the space bounded by the walls of your apartment and, therefore, will not include the common area.

When you want to sell your property, a buyer will naturally calculate the price per square foot as stated on the title deed and not on the original SPA. If you are keen to buy the apartment, then work out what the price is per square foot of the internal area (including balcony) and then you can make a decision by forecasting whether it makes for a good investment or not.

- We are a construction company and rent many rooms from a real estate company. We signed the contract last year at market price and now it is time to renew the contract. However, the landlord wants to increase rent by 50 per cent, saying Rera rules only apply to residences and offices and not to workers' accommodation? Could you explain?

According to Decree No. 43 of 2013, Article 2, the law concerning increases in rent will apply to landlords, whether private or public entities, in Dubai including those in special development zones and free zones. While there is no direct exemption for workers' accommodation by name, Decree No. 26 of 2013 makes a reference to long-term lease contracts where a different review may be permitted, so I cannot give you the ultimate answer in to your question unless I know the intricate details of your lease.

Should you not be in this category, then any increase in your rent will be subject to the same percentages as any other property and you will need to take up your case with the Rent Disputes Settlement Centre.

- I rented a villa in The Springs last month through an agency that I found online. I was very happy with their service, the agent dealt with everything in a timely manner and even helped with the Dewa connection. When it came to paying the commission, he said that I needed to make the cheque out in his name, as this is how his company worked. Because the experience had been a good one I didn't think about it and did as he asked. In hindsight, this can't be correct. He seemed like a nice guy, but was he doing something wrong?

Never, under any circumstances, should you write out a cheque to an individual or give cash without an official company invoice and receipt. Brokers must be licensed by Rera and you should ask to see their government-issued card when you start to engage with them.

There is no reason that a broker should require a personal cheque and no reputable company would ever have this policy. I suggest you contact the company and his manager to discuss the situation. The company will take the appropriate disciplinary action if there has been any wrongdoing. Whether you are an owner, buyer or tenant, beware of freelancers, as you have no comeback if something goes wrong.

- Is it mandatory for a lease to be registered with Ejari and whose responsibility is it — the landlord or the tenant?

Ejari translates to ''my rent'' in English. It also refers to the requirement to register the relationship between landlord and tenant made mandatory under Law 26, 2007, and then through the online portal in March 2010.

Rera implemented this system to protect the rights of all parties and to establish a regulated and transparent rental market. If there is a dispute between the parties, the Dubai Rent Dispute Settlement Centre will not entertain the complaint unless your contract is registered. This will ensure that all necessary owner documentation is in place for tenant protection and that all the terms and conditions of the agreement are adhered to by both parties.

Your tenancy contract will need to be registered every year and will cost Dh195, including typing. It is not difficult, all you need is a copy of the tenant's passport and visa (if foreigner) or Emirates ID, the tenancy contract, a Dewa bill, which is not more than two months old, and the title deed, or in the case of a brand-new property, the Affection Plan. An Ejari-registered agency can do this for you, but ask them to make any fees for doing this clear to you from the outset.

You will find that the issued certificate is an integral requirement of the immigration department and for other governmental procedures. This applies to commercial properties as well.

Source: Helen Tatham, Special to Property Weekly

The writer is Managing Partner of Prime Places Real Estate, a boutique agency based in Dubai. Previously, she was Director of Residential at Knight Frank and has been an observer of real estate trends in the UAE for more than ten years

Send your real estate related questions to: enag@gulfnews.com | Please mention ''Ask the Expert'' in the subject field

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