ABU DHABI // The capital’s long-awaited system to clean up and monitor the real estate industry is set to launch in nine days’ time, despite the tardiness of the emirate’s property owners.
Tawtheeq, the scheme to regulate the property market, was expected to be ready this month but was delayed by owners and management companies failing to register.
“Sometimes we get lame excuses from property-management companies,” said Ali Al Hashimi, the Tawtheeq project manager. “But all the big kahunas are signed on so there is no excuse.”
Between 50 and 60 per cent of the capital’s housing units are overseen by property-management companies. About 20 per cent of them have yet to be registered.
Starting on November 1, however, all units overseen by such companies will be required to register with Tawtheeq before services including parking -permits and utilities become available.
Tawtheeq will keep track of all tenancy contracts, which will be standardised.
Eventually, tenants and property owners will be able to conduct rental transactions online.
More than 180,000 units have already been registered with Tawtheeq. Private landlords have until February 1 to register.
Although the municipality has already hooked up with seven government agencies, only three – the Department of Transport, the Department of Economic Development and the Abu Dhabi Distribution Company – will be linked to the authorised tenancy contracts in the first phase.
Owners who lack a Tawtheeq tenancy contract will be unable to receive or renew trade licences for their properties.
Mr Al Hashimi said exceptions would be made for tenants living in units operated by companies that did not sign up.
“In the unfortunate case that the property-management company fails to do their duty, there is a temporary solution,” he said.
“In case of emergencies, we can find a suitable bypass that will allow services to be processed immediately. Tenants should not worry that they will be affected negatively by Tawtheeq.”
Mr Al Hashimi said registering for Tawtheeq should only take one day and companies were required to start using the programme for all tenancy contracts.
“Our message is to tell the property-management companies who have not yet complied that this is for their own benefit, and the benefit of their clients,” he said.
Abu Dhabi Commercial Properties (ADCP) signed on as the project’s pilot property-management company in April.
David Stewart, the chief operating officer of ADCP, said using the system “has been smoother than we expected”.
“We ironed out the day-to-day issues and, other than the expected problems with introducing a new system, we’ve encountered nothing major,” Mr Stewart said.
Building a searchable database of leasable properties in the capital is continuing and it will go online next year.
The electronic register will eventually list all residential, commercial and industrial properties in the emirate and will be searchable by unit types, price and location.
“The more accounts that sign on, the richer and stronger the database will become and the more reliable and accurate the whole system will be,” Mr Al Hashimi said.
The database will also allow the municipality to produce accurate industry reports on the property sector.
Mr Al Hashimi said the municipality would work to get the word out to property-management companies through official communications and SMS campaigns.
Registration with Tawtheeq costs Dh1,000 a property and Dh5 a unit. Registering, renewing or modifying a rental contract using Tawtheeq will cost between Dh50 and Dh100.
Tawtheeq is also under development in Al Ain and is expected to launch there in November. Al Gharbia is to roll out a similar programme next year.