x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

New real estate register will 'stop tenants getting cheated'

The capital's real estate regulator launches pilot programme for new electronic real estate register aimed at protecting tenants.

ABU DHABI // More than 22,500 housing units will take part in a trial run of the capital's new electronic real estate register, which the municipality plans to apply to all properties by the end of the year.

The units, all managed by Abu Dhabi Commercial Properties (ADCP), are part of a pilot programme for Tawtheeq, the emirate's property regulatory initiative. ADCP began registering tenancy contracts with the system yesterday, three months ahead of the programme's official launch.

Tawtheeq will keep track of all rental contracts, which will be standardised and allow tenants and property owners to conduct rental transactions online.

"The goal is to help people avoid getting cheated," said David Stewart, the chief operating officer of ADCP. "These are important checks and balances."

The project, which stems from an Executive Council decree, is an effort to regulate the property sector in the emirate. All tenancy contracts, including those already in effect, must be entered into the system before the project's second phase begins in October.

For now, all new and renewal tenancy contracts with ADCP properties in the city will be registered with Tawtheeq.

A common database will be created and will keep accurate and up-to-date statistics on vacancies and rental prices.

Municipal officials said about half of the property market had already registered to start using the system. In the next three months, all property owners will be required to sign up to use Tawtheeq. And by the end of the year, the municipality must authorise all tenancy contracts and enter them into the system.

"Many tenants will be scared, but this is about protecting their rights," said Ali Al Hashimi, the project manager for Tawtheeq in the capital. "For new tenants, the first thing they should ask their landlord is, 'are you registered with Tawtheeq?'

"If he says 'no', tenants can say, 'you better go register or I will not rent from you'."

Mr Al Hashimi said that the law would allow tenants looking to renew a contract to receive a court order to force landlords to register with Tawtheeq.

The municipality has identified 15 "strategic government partners" to collaborate on Tawtheeq, including the Department of Transport and the Department of Economic Development. It will also be linked to other government services, including water, electricity and sewage.

All property management companies and property owners must pay Dh1,000 per property and Dh5 per unit to register.

Registering, renewing or modifying a rental contract using Tawtheeq will cost Dh50 to Dh100.

Tawtheeq is also under development in Al Ain and is also due to be introduced in Al Gharbia later this year.

jthomas@thenational.ae