x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Solutions needed in property sector

There's an obvious role for government bodies in the property sector when it comes to safety. But other problems are best served by reasonable, rather than adversarial, relations between developers and residents.

At its worst, poor property management involves serious health and safety hazards. Faulty wiring, unsafe appliances, blocked fire exits - all of these are examples of negligence that can cost lives. Besides these risks, officials say poor management and poor upkeep of buildings have deterred buyers and harmed the property sector.

These issues have persisted over the years despite occasional campaigns to step up enforcement, but there is hope that renewed scrutiny of Dubai's property sector is the first step towards a solution.

As The National reports today, Marwan bin Ghalaita, the chief executive of Dubai's Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Rera), has said that while buildings look "fantastic" from the outside, "whenever you go inside, you don't know. It's a different story.

"The facility management business is going to be very important and will play a significant role in the real estate sector," Mr bin Ghalaita added.

Priority must be given to health and safety risks. Issues such as poorly installed air conditioning or improper fire exit signage can be taken care of before authorities grant completion licences to owners. This process must be followed by a system of fines and regular inspections that ensure landlords and tenants comply with the rules.

In some buildings, for example, doormen allow unlicensed handymen to fix "petty" issues such as faulty wiring, instead of employing a company that can be held accountable, to save money or even skim a little from the top. Part of the remedy here is the responsibility of property owners to ensure that work is professional, but tenants also need to be aware of the channels by which they can bring complaints to authorities.

As The National's columnist Mohamad Al Dah wrote in these pages yesterday, developers could communicate better with residents and encourage feedback. Too often that relationship has become adversarial, as we have seen in disputes at Shoreline Apartments over the past year, to name one example.

Most of these issues have been recognised by authorities for years. Rera serves an important function by highlighting the problems, but authorities, developers and tenants all need to be working on the solutions.