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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

UAE legal Q&As: how do I protect myself from property agency fraud?

A reader asks how to avoid being scammed by a property rental agency and another asks if they can enforce a foreign financial order in the UAE

I have just moved to the UAE and I want to rent an apartment but I have heard a lot of stories about fraud committed by agents. What can I do to protect myself?

To contain these frauds and to protect oneself, there are certain things that should cause warning signs in the mind of a tenant.

Some of those are: never having spoken to or contacted the owner of the property directly; dealing with someone who claims to be a “representative” of the owner without any valid Power of Attorney; being asked to make payments to a name other than that of the owner and without a valid power of attorney that expressly states that another person can receive and bank cash or cheques on behalf of the owner. If any of these statements present themselves to the person, one should start to investigate further.

It would be prudent at this point to ask for the Power of Attorney and passport copy of the person claiming to be a “representative”. If the person is claiming to be an estate agent, then proof to the affect that he is a registered property agent, the Title Deed of the property and passport copy of the owner, recent and updated Tawtheeq documents and all person’s phone numbers, this should all form part of the basic due-diligence by any tenant.

The most relevant part of the transaction that leads to the crime of fraud is the exchange of money. No money should be handed over to any person that does not satisfy the due-diligence explained in the paragraphs above.

Additionally, cash should never be paid in a tenant-landlord transaction as cash is untraceable without a receipt. Cheques should be used as a secure mode of payment.

I have a financial order issued from an Asian country and I would like to execute it against a person in the UAE. Is that possible? And what are the steps?

A financial order is a financial agreement between two parties that is issued by the court when the two parties are unable to reach a settlement privately.

A foreign financial order can be enforced in the UAE further to Article 235 of the civil code. Such enforcement must meet certain strict conditions without which any enforcement is not possible. By applying 235, one is essentially applying foreign law through the local courts.

The foreign financial order must go through a process of attestation prior to being legible for being enforced. This process results in a mirror financial order issued through the local courts which can then be enforced.

The conditions for attestation are:

  • The Dubai courts did not have jurisdiction to deal with the original litigation
  • The English order was produced by a competent court using the laws of England and Wales
  • Both parties were given notice of the hearing and attended or were represented
  • That the court had the jurisdiction to make the orders that it did
  • The order does not conflict with orders previously made by the Dubai courts, and the orders do not breach public order or morals

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Our legal consultants

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.