x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Property service charge tribunal mooted

Dubai Land Department says such a body could help to settle the many disputes between residents and developers over service fees.

DUBAI // A new tribunal could be set up to mediate service charge disputes in property developments.

Mohammed Sultan Thani, the assistant director general of the Dubai Land Department, said such a body was needed, but no firm decision had yet been made.

"It is being discussed," he said. "There's a lot of complaints about service charges and owners' associations.

"I don't know how many people there will be [adjudicating], or how it will work. Its just an idea until now. Ultimately, it's the government's decision whether to establish such a tribunal."

Residents in many areas of Dubai have been plagued by disputes over service charges with their developer. Some tenants have found themselves shut out of beaches, gyms and car parks because their landlords have failed to pay the charges.

Many owners at the Shoreline apartments on the Palm Jumeirah are refusing to pay a portion of the service charges, which they say have not been approved by the Real Estate Regulatory Authority.

Ian Albert, regional director of real estate brokers Colliers International, said the mere existance of a tribunal could stop disputes even before they began.

"The fact that there is a tribunal means that contracts will be drafted with a lot more care and attention at the beginning, for fear of them being overturned later on," he said.

"It should actually start to balance the system in advance, prior to any cases actually being brought to a tribunal."