x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Fast-track system for Dubai rent disputes welcomed

The new rental dispute resolution centre decreed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid aims to rule on cases within 30 days - a move welcomed by lawyers and residents in Dubai.

DUBAI // A new rental dispute resolution centre has been welcomed by residents and the legal fraternity due to the speedy resolution assured on property cases.

The judicial and legal representation in committees and departments of the Rent Dispute Settlement Centre has also received widespread support.

The centre will rule on cases within 30 days, according to the decree issued on Saturday by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. “The major difference is that the objective of the new committee will be resolution in 30 days and it is hoped this will make it expeditious and speedy,” said Ludmila Yamalova, a managing partner at HPL Yamalova & Plewka.

“The new committee will be composed of judges and legal practitioners, so it will be a more traditional legal forum than the current rent committee. The committee will also have execution powers and this will be a big benefit.

“In the past, people had to approach Dubai Courts. Still, our experience of the Rent Committee has been that it is effective in resolving disputes.”

Currently, Dubai Municipality’s Rent Committee is the emirate’s highest property-leasing court. The committee’s decisions are binding and cannot be appealed in any other court.

As per the decree, the new centre to replace the Rent Committee will be given 60 days to resolve more complicated cases.

Appeals will be permitted in certain cases, including on eviction notices and disputes of amounts more than Dh100,000.

Legal experts awaited more information on the new committee.

“What our clients will appreciate most is the improved timescale and we are waiting for more details to be clear,” said Andrew Thomson, a senior associate with legal firm Clyde & Co.

“The timescale will be beneficial for commercial interests. While the existing system does work relatively effectively, we welcome any modernisation planned as part of the new system.”

Residents hoped it would put an end to lengthy disputes.

“I hope this new committee takes into account that the tenant is exposed if rules are not followed,” said Sheryl, a resident of International City who approached the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) when her landlord asked her to vacate before the expiry of her one-year contract.

“Laws are not easy to understand when you are from a different country and if there is one court or committee you can approach and it has legal backing, then tenants will feel much more secure.”

Last year, the property market in Dubai was rocked by real estate scams where tenants’ cash was siphoned by owners and agents of property companies who fled the country.

Since then, Rera has outlined government plans to increase fines and ban property companies found guilty of breaking the emirate’s rules. It also asked residents to check their landlord’s title deed and broker’s registration, and register tenancy contracts under the Ejari scheme, to avoid fraud.

rtalwar@thenational.ae