x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Freelance real estate agents to be targeted under new laws

Industry experts say ridding the capital of unlicensed agents is an important first step towards tenant protection.

ABU DHABI // Real estate agents who have not registered with the municipality are expected to be the target of new regulations.

Industry experts and municipal officials said ridding the capital of unlicensed agents is an important first step towards tenant protection.

“One of the crucial elements is licensing of brokerage companies and individuals who are operating as independent freelancers,” said Ali Al Hashimi, the project manager for Tawtheeq, the emirate’s new real estate regulatory initiative.

Though these freelancers are common in the capital, they are not legally authorised. Mr Al Hashimi said residents should contact the Department of Economic Development to ensure agents are registered.

Diana Stebbins, an agent at Global Star Real Estate, which has operated in the capital for more than seven years, said eliminating freelance agents should be Abu Dhabi’s priority for the industry.

“What needs to be enacted and enforced are rules prohibiting freelance agents from operating with impunity,” Ms Stebbins said. “These freelancers charge the same five per cent commission but have no overhead cost, no licence, no sponsor, no office.

“If there was a government office to report their activity to ... then they soon could be stopped and companies would no longer openly use their services.”

The municipality is still developing regulations under Tawtheeq, but Mr Al Hashimi said the standards would be set in “not a very long while”.

jthomas@thenational.ae