x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Owners on The Palm one step closer to self-governance of their homes

Rera approval welcomed by Shoreline residents who have tussled with developer over common areas.

DUBAI // Five of 13 owners associations at the Shoreline residences were officially registered today, improving their standing in a longtime dispute with their developer Nakheel over the service charges levied to maintain the property.

Associations are meant to take over control of managing their properties from developers by electing a board to represent them, hiring a management firm to carry out operations, setting budgets and choosing contractors.

Some 200 have been registered with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority but remain "interim" groups. That is, they are de facto decisionmakers but because they are not legal entities, they must rely on their developer to issue cheques.

It was unclear if the Shoreline groups faced the same restrictions of if they were uniquely empowered by a certificate Rera issued this week.

One certificate stated: "Rera declares (this association) now registered [ ...]. With this, the association can start undertaking the following responsibilities: ... reviewing the budget for the service charges and approving it ... managing the association and common areas."

At the very least, registration would allow Shoreline boards to say they represent their fellow owners - a claim Nakheel has rejected, said Nader Alizadeh, the chairman of one board.

"Nakheel is telling us regularly that you guys don't represent anyone except yourselves, and that the majority of owners are quite happy with the current situation," he said.

Tensions flared last December when the developer, Nakheel, banned residents with unpaid service fees from accessing the beach, gym and pool.

Owners countered that they should only have to pay fees approved by Rera, and that unapproved charges exceeded market rates.

The owners are eager to control the budget and contracts themselves. They plan to meet today and Saturday to discuss next steps.

The remaining associations are expected to complete registration soon, as they collect required documents such as police certificates of good conduct.

chuang@thenational.ae