x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Rera signs owner accounts contract in Dubai

Property owners are a step closer to managing their own communities after Dubai's realty watchdog signed an agreement allowing Emirates NBD to open escrow accounts for owners' associations.

DUBAI // Property owners are a step closer to managing their own communities after the emirate's realty watchdog signed an agreement allowing Emirates NBD to open escrow accounts for owners' associations.

The Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Rera) signed the agreement with the bank yesterday.

The move means owners associations will be able to collect and manage fees and service charges for their apartment blocks and communities, then choose service providers to manage their common areas.

Marwan bin Ghalita, chief executive of Rera, said similar agreements would soon be signed with other banks.

"This reflects Rera's keenness to make transaction in the real estate market more transparent," Mr bin Ghalita said. "This agreement will not be the last one to be made between Rera and a known banking entity."

Residents said that the agreement was excellent news but long overdue.

"This is a beginning and we wish it would have been done a long time ago," said Farah Agha, the head of Dubai Property Investors Group.

"It's important because earlier owners associations did not have control over their own accounts or the service fees of a building. Now they will have control.

"It's significant because they will be able to manage disbursement of funds to subcontractors and decide whether to choose one company or multiple companies."

In recent years there have been several clashes between owners and developers over service fees, with many owners refusing to pay what they described as inflated charges.

In communities such as Palm Jumeirah, residents were refused access to the beach and other facilities when service-fee disputes reached a head.

"Hopefully this will help to settle the disputes because owners have not been happy. They believe service providers are milking them," Ms Agha said.

"Now, with this autonomy, it gives power to the association to decide what price they will pay for services and control the quality."

Samir Sahu, deputy general manager of Emirates NBD, said the accounts would be created in the names of the associations and the bank would act as a trustee.

rtalwar@thenational.ae