Stock Dubai skyline city
Empowering homeowners... the call for filing nominations to OA committees will lead to better representation and, hopefully, reduce tensions between developers, property management firms and property owners. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: All property owners in Dubai have been given two weeks to give their nominations to be members of the OA (owners association) committees overseeing their buildings or communities. This applies to owners staying in those properties as well as investors who have rented out their units.

“The move by the real estate authorities is to give greater voice to homeowners in setting service charge fees for their properties and also how the funds collected will be used,” said a property owner. “The issue of service charges has become an emotional issue, which is why having a broader representation of property owners on OAs should help most differences between owners, developers and property management companies.”

Each OA committees have nine members, and they have the “responsibility” to confirm their property management firm and also give their opinion on what annual service charges should be.

Earlier, only property owners who were staying in their units in that building/community could apply to be a member. The Real Estate Regulatory Agency, in recent times, has been flooded with requests from property owners to have a direct say in how service charges are set each year. At some buildings/communities, service charges have seen a steep hike in the last two years.

Read More

What homeowners should do

According to the authorities, property owners should submit the credentials through the Dubai REST app. They should select the property they want to represent as an OA member, and also upload supporting documents such as a good conduct certificate from Dubai Police and sign a declaration to follow the “instructions of the members of the Real Estate Owners Committee”.

If all goes well, there will be “better representation” on OA committees in Dubai, industry sources say. Right now, OAs are still skewed in favour of developers or developer representatives. Some homeowners argue that property management firms too are, in most case, aligned with developer interests and that this should change.

Timely intervention

The move by Dubai’s real estate authorities to give this two-week window for fresh nominations comes at a time when there is a huge tussle building up between OA companies and homeowners on service charges collections. Payments for this year are currently at 60-70 per cent below what they should be.

It was just a month ago that RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Authority) issued legal notices to property owners who had defaulted on their year-to-date service charge dues. Further action on this is awaited.

“The authorities want to hear more representative voices about homeowner associations and service charge issues,” said an industry source. “This is probably why they are reaching out to owners and calling in fresh nominations. Most of the issues of today can be resolved with a better mix on OA committees.”

The main problem is that prospective buyers are exiting when they hear about service charges being around 60 per cent of the rental income

- Dubai property owner complaining about service fees being Dh36 a square foot at a premium tower. It used to be Dh16 in 2013.