The everywhere comes with a series of changes, from the way you rent an apartment, carry out banking transactions and buy a cell phone to paying your traffic fines or buying a new car. Gulf News puts together a quick reference list on procedure changes worthy of a spot on your fridge...
When: The authority has linked ID card registration and visa processing across the country except in Dubai which was implemented it in April 2012. Fines were imposed on Emiratis from November 1 and expatriates in four northern emirates (Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Ajman), and all expatriates working in the government sector across the country since December 1 was the final push. The film will have been applied for expatriates in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai from February 1, 2012, April 1, 2012 and June 1, 2012 respectively. October 31, 2011 was the deadline for renewing all identity cards expiring up to that date. The delay attracts a Dh20 fine per day, up to a maximum of Dh1, 000.
Why: A deadline for professional expatriates in 2008 and denial of any government services also started encouraging expatriates to taken action. The card is now mandatory across the country except in Dubai to access Ministry of Interior services including that of the Traffic Department. The rule began in four emirates — Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah in November 2009. Dubai implemented it in mid-2012. Ajman Government and many federal and local government organizations have made the card compulsory to access their services and others will follow suit soon.
Child safety campaign :
What: A safety awareness campaign as a first step towards protecting children in high-rise buildings.
Why: In view of the increasing number of children falling from high-rises recently.
When: Ongoing ..
The tragic spate of children falling to their deaths alarmed authorities across the UAE, who took measures to ensure that children are safe. Authorities and safety experts have asserted the need to keep children under the supervision of parents or guardians at all times, generating awareness, while, at the same time, taking measures to ensure that houses and buildings are safe.
The Municipal Council of Sharjah has announced that local authorities will soon launch a safety awareness campaign as a first step towards protecting children in high-rise buildings. The Child Protection Higher Committee and the Ministry of Interior Child Protection Centre are also considering issuing a new set of codes regarding construction and safety specifications in high-rise buildings to promote child safety. The Ministry of Interior's child protection center called for balconies to be covered with Perspex sheets. Balcony doors should remain closed at all times and locked and keys have to be kept in a place that cannot be reached by children. The Department of Municipal Affairs, Abu Dhabi, is working to put in place a unified set of codes, known as the Abu Dhabi Building Codes, to address this issue.
3. Traffic fines :
What: The International Bank Account (IBAN) number is required to conduct any local or international transactions. The IBAN is a unique 23-digit long, internationally recognized code assigned to each bank account. It is required if salaries are processed through UAEWPS, whereby the employer is registered with the Ministry of Labor, and UAEFTS, whereby the employer is outside the purview of the Ministry of Labor and the accounts of the employer and employee are with different banks. The IBAN is not required if the salary is processed through an internal transfer, which means the employer is outside the purview of the Ministry of Labor and the accounts of the employer and employee are with the same bank.
When: IBAN launched on November 2011.
Why: To ensure efficient and speedy payment transactions and minimize the risk of transcription errors in cross-border transactions, according to the Central Bank.
What: Registering rent contracts with the Dubai Land Department (DLD) through Ejari.ae. This will be a pre-requisite to accessing other government services. Failure to comply will result in a penalty.
Who: Dubai tenants and landlords only.
When: Effective for new contracts registered since 2012. Tenants with existing contracts can wait until their contract renewal date to seek registration.
Why: To help the government monitor the property market and offer better insights through its rental index while ensuring all tenants pay their housing fees regularly.
6. Unified car purchase contract
What: The new unified auto purchase contract clearly states the rights of the customers and dealers' obligations in terms of warranties, after-sales service and maintenance, among others. Officials expect disputes between car dealers and consumers to drop by 30 per cent with the implementation of the unified contract. The unified contract for sales comprises an invoice (containing the vehicle code, vehicle specifications, color, engine capacity and checklist), warranty provided and a delivery acknowledgment from the customer. All printed documents should be in both Arabic and English. A service contract must include a service invoice, regular service check sheet, job cards and customer acknowledgment of the documents. For a parts contract, there should be an invoice with the service provider's name and address, description of the goods or services provided, sales unit, price in local currency and Arabic enabled documentation.
When: Since January 2012
Why: To help the UAE's automobile sector by making buying and selling activity more transparent, for the benefit of customer, officials say.
7. Fake mobile phones :
What: UAE telecommunication service providers etisalat and duo will suspend all services to mobile phone subscribers who use counterfeit handsets. Users of fake devices will be contacted by their service providers and all phones that are not type approved will be disconnected from all telecom services, including calls, texts and the internet, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said.
When: Since January 1, 2012.
Why: Officials say fake phones could be hazardous as they may not meet safety standards.
By now, we all know that Dubai is a tenants’ market. With the demand-supply equation tilted strongly against the landlords, tenants are in a position to be more aggressive in negotiating rent and facilities. However, the fact remains that tenants are not fully equipped to demand what could rightly be theirs because of lack of awareness. Property, in association with Ludmila Yamalova, managing partner, Yamalova Plewka JLT, brings you the low-down on what every tenant in this market must know
1. Ask for a customized tenancy contract :
Remember, a standard tenancy contract does not really exist. “Whenever you enter into a negotiation with a landlord or real estate agent, just make it very clear that you want a contract that is specifically drafted for you,” says Ludmila. “There is a standard tenancy contract commonly used in Dubai, but that’s only a template. You can draft your own or make changes to it. The existing template is a one-page document which is limited and unhelpful. Today, tenants have the leverage to dictate or set their own terms. Some landlords and real estate agents will tell you it is not done that way. The truth is they don’t want it to be done that way.”
2. Read the contract closely before you sign :
Ludmila advises tenants to read the contract thoroughly. “You must read the contract and if you don’t understand it, then don’t sign it,” she says. It is better to include a termination clause in the contract so that it becomes easier for both parties to terminate the deal if the need arises. Generally, the exit clause comprises the notice period and the penalty payable to the landlord. “You have to be fair and the term should allow you to terminate the contract with some sort of penalty. During the notice period, you should also give the landlord access to the property so that he can show it to other clients. If the landlord finds another tenant during the notice period, then he may not want to penalize you. Not every landlord wants to penalize just because they can,” says Ludmila.
3. Get the contract registered :
Make sure the contracts are registered. Many people think it is the landlord’s responsibility to do it but this is unrealistic. Tenants should also be aware of this process. It is important — if anything goes wrong, you are not allowed to file a case against the landlord if the tenancy contract is not registered.
4. Have your deposit held in an escrow account :
Many landlords ask for a guarantee deposit but at the same time refuse to return the deposit to the tenants when they vacate. “It is better to make sure that the deposit is held in an escrow account or with a real estate agent or lawyers,” says Ludmila. “Damages are bound to happen in the unit that you stay in and it is only fair that landlords have a security deposit which they can use for maintenance. Try to document everything.” Documentation is a vital aspect as there may be unforeseen situations where the landlord is unavailable and there is something wrong with the air conditioning or electricity. In such a situation, the tenant should be able to get the work done and then the cost should be reimbursed by the landlord. The whole process will be smooth if it is properly documented in the contract. “Another thing is to have the authority to deal with the service management company on behalf of the landlord. Get some sort of authorization or power of attorney from the landlord,” adds Ludmila.
5. Never pay in one cheque :
During the boom time, tenants used to pay rent for the whole year in advance as the sector was dominated by single cheque payments. However, when the market crashed and the demand for units came down drastically, landlords and real estate agents were forced to accept more cheques — some even offering payment option in many as 12 cheques. “Landlords can no longer dictate the terms as they used to. As a legal practitioner, my strongest advice is never paid in one cheek,” Ludmila says. She advises those who pay in one cheque to ask for a guarantee deposit from the landlord so that they can be held accountable for any damage or disturbance that may come up before the end of the lease. “You have to decide whether the guarantee deposit will be held by the real estate agency or the lawyers who are involved in it or an escrow account. While there are no escrow services in the UAE as such, real estate agents and lawyers can hold investment funds,” she explains.
6. Know your landlord :
7. Get proof of authorization :
In Dubai, it is very rare for tenants to deal with the landlord directly, so it is imperative that whoever you are dealing with should show you some proof that he or she is authorized to conduct the transactions and dealings on behalf of the landlord. “For example, if it is a real estate company, you need to see some kind of documents that show that this company is authorized to act on behalf of the landlord. If it is a representative of the landlord, then a power of attorney, which is a legally binding document, is an absolute must,” says Ludmila.
8. Document expenses in the contract :
Tenants should make sure that they look at all the expenses such as water and electricity bills, housing fees, air conditioning/chiller/district cooling charges and service fees. “Generally, service fees are paid by the landlord while some others want to pass it on to the tenants,” says Ludmila. The issue of service charges must be discussed with the landlord in advance as it is something which will affect the tenants directly. If the landlord doesn’t pay the service fees, then the tenant’s rights to the property or amenities could be curtailed. Before signing the deal, the tenant and the landlord should make a decision as to who will pay the Dewa (Dubai Water and Electricity Authority) bill, which also includes the housing fee which is 5 per cent of the annual rent — a substantial amount. “Air conditioning is a big expense too and you need to decide who will pay for it because if you don’t pay and the landlord doesn’t pay either, it gets cut off” says Ludmila. “You need to discuss instruments such as access cards, parking access cards and parking numbers. If these get lost, how can you get a replacement? These are some of the issues that need to be addressed.”
9. Plan for the unexpected :
There should be provisions in the contract for unforeseen issues such as power or water leaks, which can be a major cause of concern sometimes. Tenants need to discuss with their landlord who will be responsible in case of such an event. Ludmila recollects the plight of one of her clients who was forced to pay Dh10,000 every month as a Dewa bill because of some leaks. “Ultimately it affects the tenants and it is their name that is there on the Dewa account. Landlords may return this amount after finding out what the issue is but that’s only a hope. That’s why I insist on taking a deposit from the landlord as well.”
10. Make sure all bills have been settled :
Ludmila advises tenants to conduct proper due diligence before they sign the deal and money exchanges hands. “Make sure all the accounts are settled by the previous tenant. There are many instances when tenants go to set up utility or telecom accounts only to find that the previous tenants haven’t paid their dues.” In such cases, the new tenants will be on a hook because on the one hand the dues of the previous tenant are standing unpaid while on the other the new lease agreement has been signed and deposit paid, she adds.
11. Have automatic provisions in the contract :
Having automatic provisions in the tenancy contract allows the tenant to take appropriate decisions in case of any problem related to the unit even in the absence of the landlord. “Try to make an automatic provision where if the landlord doesn’t respond in two weeks, then the tenant gets the right to contact the contractors,” Ludmila concludes.