Over the years, there has been plenty of talk on the establishment of home Owner’s Associations (OAs), which would put control into the hands of landlords instead of the project developers.
In 2007, Dubai’s government rolled out a Jointly Owned Property Law, also known as the ‘Strata Law.’
In principle, the law divides properties into privately-owned units and jointly owned common areas managed by the landlords, who would form a homeowner’s association.
However, the law does not make clear the extent of the power that Owners Associations have, Dubai-based law firm Al Tamimi wrote in a 2013 advisory note.
Today, a decade after the original law was issued, there are only a few Owners’ Associations that have been formally registered by the Dubai Land Department, the property registration body.
The others that have been registered are considered to be “Interim Owners’ Associations”.
While some of [the OAs] have been given the power to make decisions on management of the building by developers, these Interim OA’s do not have legal rights. This means, for example, that they cannot enter into contracts.
“It is questionable [also] whether they have standing to sue or be sued,” said Majdel Musa (right), a property law expert who formerly worked at the Dubai Land Department.
But there may be hope ahead for more self-governing freehold communities.
“There has been talk of a new OA (Owner’s Association) law coming for several years now,” said Musa.
“There is much speculation in the market that the new law would leave control with the developers, or hand it over to the owners’ association management companies.”
“Yet, some still believe that the original intent of the law will be realised. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Other issues prevent the formation of fully functional owner’s associations, the expert said.
“This is, understandably, the feeling that many owners have due to some developers’ reluctance to give any control to owners,” she told Gulf News.
“But there is some concern from the developers’ and management companies’ end that board members would be given control over bank accounts, and flee the country with millions of dirhams.”
“Unfortunately, there is distrust on both sides.”
The first aspect to address is whether you live in a freehold area or not.
Many popular freehold areas, such as Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach Residences, Sports City, and Arabian Ranches – are located nearer to the Jebel Ali side of the city.
If the issue concerns the inside of the apartment, it’s generally the landlord’s responsibility to fix things.
But if there are problems in wider community area, for instance, outside your villa or in the corridor leading to your apartment, you’ll probably want to contact the building’s facilities management.
Many developments, particularly larger ones, have a staffed office with manager who usually works during standard business hours.
Broader issues such as pest control – a rat infestation for example, or construction noise - should be referred to the Dubai Municipality.
Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA), can serve to mediate disputes between residents of a building and the management or developer.
Under the UAE’s laws, the tenants or landlords may speak to the media about their issues and complaints in relation to the property they rent or own, according to a Dubai based lawyer.
“However, they may not disclose the names and details of the building management or owners in any statement in a manner that would be harmful to their reputation,” warned Hamdan Al Shamsi, a senior partner in law firm that carries his name.
If disputes happen between with the landlord, tenants or building management, you have two main options, said lawyer Shouq Al Kathiri.
“The UAE’s legislations gives the right to raise complaints to the Dubai Land Department’s Rental Dispute Centre or to the Dubai Municipality.”