When an investor has a problem with a partner or an issue with a contract, often the best course of action is to talk it through. But if there is an impasse, the courts can make a final decision. In Dubai, however, where a number of property investors and developers have been locked in a stalemate since the end of 2008, things are not so simple. Many investors and developers have used the courts to resolve disputes, but the Dubai Government appears to be moving towards increasing the power of the Dubai Land Department and the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) rather than invoking the law.
Yesterday, the legal firm Hadef and Partners revealed a summary of regulations for Law 13. Law 13 was introduced in 2008 to regulate off-plan property sales in Dubai and set out the rules for registering property with the Land Department, among other requirements. There are some good signs in the regulations - like more specific definitions of situations where developers or investors can cancel their contracts - but the wording makes it very clear that the power rests with the regulators.
The regulations were recently signed by the authorities, but have only just now emerged in the publication from Hadef and Partners. Most of the regulatory statements end with a variation of "or any other reason deemed by the Dubai Land Department". This could be a good thing, but it is hard to be sure because the RERA and the Land Department have largely been silent in the past year. Little is known about their view of the property sector in Dubai and how they hope disputes might be sorted out in the next few years. While the efforts behind such laws should be applauded for dealing with deadlocks in Dubai, they need to be better explained before anyone can feel growing relief about, or confidence in, the sector.