Plus questions about background checks when visiting the UAE, probationary periods are forbidden to exceed six months, and more questions for The National's consumer advocate.
On Your Side: Wills are vital tools to keep families in control of asset
I am hoping you can answer a question about whether I need to get a will. My wife and I have very little in the way of assets in the UAE and when I raised the issue with my bank, one of their employees told me not to bother and that I only needed to arrange a power of attorney. Are they right? AW, Sharjah
I have to totally disagree with the very poor advice provided by the bank. AW is a Canadian national and married with children. He only has a bank account and one car in the UAE with his main assets elsewhere, but he should still have a will. The purpose of a will is to ensure that a person's assets are distributed in accordance with their wishes on death and not in the way that a government dictates as these could be contradictory. In the unfortunate event that both AW and his wife die, it should also specify who would be the long term guardian(s) of his children. The will should be written in accordance with Canadian law as that takes precedence in his situation.
My brother lives in the UK, but would like to come and visit me in the UAE. He has a criminal record for some minor offences from quite a few years ago and last year a visa request to go to the US was turned down. Is he likely to have issues entering the UAE? He is too worried to come and visit in case there is a problem. DL, Dubai
I have been advised past records are not checked when a person enters the UAE on a visit or tourist visa. Unless someone is on an Interpol list or wanted on an international arrest warrant, there will be no questions regarding their entry if they are from one of the countries that does not require a pre-arranged visa.
I am planning on renting an apartment, but the one I have found is available directly from a landlord. I have read your previous comments about only using an agent registered with RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Authority), but I don't know where I stand with renting directly. The landlord has sent me an email with copies of the title deeds, a trade licence and a passport. What makes me uncomfortable is that I have only met him at the apartment and he is refusing to provide me with a written contract until I give him a cheque, but despite this, he has said it is OK to move in before the actual start date. Is this normal and what do I need to look out for? FH, Dubai
If you are planning on renting directly from the owner of a property then you need to take additional care as you do not have the same formal protection if matters go wrong. Ensure you have all the relevant paperwork before handing over any money. The title deeds should be proof of ownership and you should ensure the name matches up with the passport the landlord has given you. If the person you are dealing with is acting on behalf of the owner, then you need to ensure they either have power of attorney or legal authorisation from the Dubai courts. If you are dealing with a second person then you should have copies of the passports of both parties. Under no circumstances make any payment without a contract with acceptable terms that comply with the law. The amounts concerned are too large to take any risks with, so if you have doubts it is best to walk away and find an alternative property to rent.
I have been with my current employer for just over five months and have a contract that specifies a six-month probationary period. As this is nearly up I asked my boss to confirm that my job will be made permanent, but he said that due to the current economic climate they would like to extend the probationary period. I am not happy about this uncertainty. Can you tell me if this is allowed? FW, Abu Dhabi
Article 37 of the UAE Labour Law states that an "employee may be appointed for a probationary period not to exceed six months". If an individual is still in service after six months they are deemed to be a permanent employee and the probationary period forms part of their total service. An individual may not have their probationary period extended or work for more than one probationary period with one employer.
I rented an apartment in March this year and to get a reduction on the rent I agreed to pay the rent in one cheque. I have now been given the option to transfer to my company's office in Qatar, which I would like to do. I have spoken to the agents who arranged the rental and they said if I want to leave early I am not entitled to any refund. This seems very unfair as I am only five months into the tenancy, so can you tell me what I can do about it? KL, Abu Dhabi
You signed a contract for a full year so if you vacate early you are not legally entitled to a refund. The contract is legally binding on both parties and is also designed to protect you from being asked to leave early by the landlord. Neither party may terminate the contract without the consent of the other party. My suggestion however is to contact the landlord directly to see if you could be released from the obligation and receive a refund if you find him a replacement tenant. As he would not be financially disadvantaged there is a good chance he would agree and I know of situations where a landlord has seen reason and accepted such an arrangement.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. On Your Side appears every week in Personal Finance. Write to her at Keren@holbornassets.com with queries for this column or for advice on any other financial planning matter.