20 September, 2011

The role of RERA and the Land Department

Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) was established in 2007 to research and monitor the Dubai property market and to develop strategies which foster development in the market.

RERA is attached to, and based within, the land department of Dubai (LD). It does not make the laws, but will pass on recommendations to the Dubai Executive Council, the lawmakers. RERA and the LD will then enact laws and decrees issued in the Official Gazette.  RERA, from time to time, issues circulars interpreting and explaining the official laws and decrees issued.

The land department provides land and property registration, compiles related statistics and issues termination notices among other activities. 

The website
To increase awareness of laws and regulations, as well as educate all stakeholders in real estate, RERA carries out polls, offers training and publishes a wealth of information on its dedicated Dubai Real Estate Community web site - www.rpdubai.com. The agency also publishes a monthly magazine, the Dubai Real Times, addressing current issues in the market.

The website should be the first stop for anyone looking into Dubai real estate. It offers guides for landlords, tenants, investors and real estate professionals, along with examples of relevant documentation, such as tenancy contracts and sales & purchase agreements. 

Licensing and approval

To increase transparency and trust in the market RERA licenses and monitors everyone involved in property. In this respect, a list of all approved real estate brokers, developers and developments can be found on its website. All property adverts, auctions and exhibitions should also carry a RERA approval stamp.  

Project updates & stalled projects

Masaar, the authority’s construction progress indicator of all projects in Dubai is especially useful to investors for a developer-independent check on what’s happening. However, if updates aren’t current, visit RERA in person to get the latest.

The authority has now been given the power to cancel stalled projects at its own discretion.  Earlier this year it was announced that over 100 projects had been cancelled.

In theory, a cancellation means full return of investors’ money by law.  If you are involved with a cancelled project, you should check with RERA’s escrow (trust account) department whether there is any money left in the project to be returned.  The escrow department should be in possession of this information or RERA may send the buyer, or their legal representative, to the bank holding the developer’s escrow account. 

RERA registers and monitors developers’ escrow accounts and more recently real estate brokers, where money proceeding from sales is deposited for security.

Standards & ethics

To improve standards and ethics in the real estate sector RERA trains real estate professionals and certifies them via the Dubai Real Estate Institute (DREI). RERA’s valuation department or Taqyeem (Real Estate Appraisal Centre at the LD) is also working closely with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) amongst others to create a uniform measuring standard for real estate in Dubai. Once in place, buyers should be able to complain to RERA if the standards are not adhered to.

Property disputes

Both, RERA and the LD, have been trying to assist investors and developers when disputes arise.   Investors and developers are directed to an e-mail address in order to lodge a complaint.  Response times have been slow in the past but as the market settles down this is improving.

Investors should also take their grievances to the mediation committee at the land department. It consists of five appointed members that will consider a complaint and should come to a conclusion within 30 days. If no agreement is reached, the LD’s Director General will issue a report with which the case can be filed in the Dubai Courts under the Dubai Property Court.  

The LD also issues the termination notices on a developer’s request when buyers fail to keep up with their installments. On receipt of this notice, investors must react fast (within 30 days) and contact the LD or RERA if they want to dispute the notice.

Rent & tenancy agreements

RERA’s rent committee is responsible for resolving landlord-tenant disputes.   The organisation publishes a rental index on its website which the committee will consult in case of rent value disputes.

All Dubai rental contracts must be registered by the landlord or agent on RERA’s electronic EJARI system for disputes to be considered. Tenants should alert RERA, if their landlord refuses to register.

Rental agreements come in many formats, RERA–suggested, agency-produced, or the Dubai Municipality (blue) one, which can be bought in Satwa for a couple of dirhams.

Service fees

Another area RERA is involved with is regulating the set up of homeowners associations (HOAs). It provides the necessary courses for board members and approves service fees implemented by developers. Any complaints regarding those charges or the lack of an HOA in a development should be directed at RERA.

Property registration

Developers and mortgage providers must register an off-plan property on the electronic interim register for legal security. Failure to do so carries a fine.  Buyers can check the register and report if a property is not present.

Once the property is fully paid off and ownership is transferred, the buyer needs to visit the land department to collect his title deed.

A property registration should include any allocated parking spaces and insist that the title deed mention the same. Disputes with developers over extra payment for issues such as these can materialise.


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