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Towering Tawtheeq

Tawtheeq, an Abu Dhabi real estate initiative is on its way to be launched within the next month; though there can

October 23, 2011 5:00 by

This weekend I finally got a chance to catch up with a friend who moved back to Dubai. After the formalities were covered, I inquired after her new apartment.

“I am living in a slum,” was the response I got.

And though she was, indeed, exaggerating, from what I could make out she was living in a sub-standard apartment. In her haste to find a place to call home, she quickly signed the lease for an apartment in International City and paid the Dh55K rent for an entire year upfront in one installment-as is the requirement of certain landlords in the Emirates. And although, the building seemed alright when she first moved in, she is slowly discovering that it hardly matches up to the landlord’s description.  Two of the lifts have stopped working, the electricity goes from time to time, there are no lights on in the public areas of the building and the water supply is far from reliable.

Any complaints to the landlord are quickly refuted by a claim that ‘the other tenants are not paying up’ and of course ‘your money is non-refundable.’

In a word, she’s ‘stuck’.

Such a situation is uncommon among residents in the Emirates, where renting is the preferred option due to a general sense of impermanence. Yet this sense of impermanence, also allows landlords and developers to get away with shoddy real estate maintenance and stringent contracts. Despite rents plummeting post-recession, landlords still hold the upper hand.

Which is why, many in the Abu Dhabi real estate market are looking forward to the launch of a new scheme that will see developers, owners and management companies join together to form a comprehensive real estate body. The scheme will set a standard for tenancy contracts issued by property management companies and private landlords.

Though the scheme, Tawtheeq, had been expected to be launched this month, it has been delayed because over 20 percent of property management companies have failed to sign up to the scheme; although to date, more than 180,000 units have already been registered with Tawtheeq.

That there is a need for a standardised and unified body for the Abu Dhabi real estate market, is undoubtedly a fact. This rather unfortunate story of a family that was duped by a landlord who provided them with a phoney contract and ran away with their AED45000, is an excellent example. But I can’t help but be reminded of the dreadfully slow implementation of RERA’s Strata Law last year that attempted to unify home owners and developers for similar reasons. Attempts that, we are still hearing of one year on, later. Given the current circumstances, we’re sure the folks at Tawtheeq understand that the full extent and speed of the law will be needed to be implemented to protect the homeowners and renters.

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