x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Homeowners take charge of services

It remains to be seen whether newly formed homeowners association boards can handle all aspects of a building's management.

A man's home is his castle. (And equally so for a woman.) That old adage may be warming the hearts of many a Dubai resident today as they take charge of household services under the newly implemented strata law.

Many may be all too familiar with high fees and unsatisfactory service in the past. Discontent with developers has been rife, as angry letters to The National have periodically shown. In just one example, Discovery Gardens owners were told to pay service charges that would have been as high as Dh20,000 a year for a typical one-bedroom flat. Not surprisingly, last year owners got together and complained to authorities.

"This is a way to highlight the frustrations of homeowners who are severely disappointed with their properties," said Michael Aldendorff, the group's representative.

Thanks to the strata law, homeowners are now able to legally take matters into their own hands. It remains to be seen if the same spirit of cooperation can prevail absent the righteous indignation against developers however. As we report today, owners' associations are belatedly being formed, and with that, members hope, will come lower charges and improved services.

After long delays, in the last few days several Dubai buildings held their first homeowners' association meetings, with a view to nominating board members who will eventually take on all management aspects of their properties. Candidate forms were filled out and votes were cast. But it will be a long and arduous task.

The strata law has already raised concerns about a lack of communication with developers, as well as disputes on issues such as common areas that developers may claim as their own.

To tackle these issues efficiently, the relationship between the owners associations and hired service companies is crucial. It remains to be seen whether newly formed boards can handle all aspects of a building's management, but there is a clear opportunity for service companies to provide these homeowners high-quality, value-for-money services.

Owning your own home is a great feeling. Being responsible for how it is run can be even more satisfying.