x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Owners' associations begin taking control of properties

The first of Dubai's owners' associations are becoming legally recognised entities but some still face conflicts over fees for building maintenance.

DUBAI // The first of Dubai's Owners Associations (OAs) are crossing the threshold into becoming legally recognised entities.

However, obstacles await as they officially take over control of property maintenance and costs from their residential building developers.

Three associations have been approved by the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Rera) since the strata law came into effect three months ago, said Adrian Quinn, chairman of Essential Community Management, which assists OAs.

Until now, homeowners had, at best, been able to air their grievances in interim OAs, which had no authority to, for example, set service fees or open a group bank account to collect them.

The formation of these interim bodies depended on developers, who first had to file extensive paperwork with Rera and then call a general assembly where owners could elect their board members.

When the deadline for the paperwork passed in October, many developers had not yet complied.

Still, formal associations are only the first step to resolving conflicts, as owners at Lake Point Tower in Jumeirah Lakes Towers have found.

Landlords there have long engaged in battles with their developer — and some in lawsuits — over what they consider excessive fees for district cooling and maintenance.

Since electing their board last autumn, three of seven members have resigned.

Some owners complained they were still paying high fees, and that the money was not going to an independent OA account. "Practically nothing has changed," said one who requested anonymity.

The vice-chairman of the board, Iyad Almosawi, said the board was strategising ways to cut costs, and would update owners in a few months.

No OA account has been opened because, he said, he had been told by Rera, the banks are not ready.

"I'm not going to tell you we have a magic wand. We are progressing slowly but surely," he said.

"We hope that we can improve service and lower costs."