The scale of the flooding that followed the rains of last week was unprecedented for the UAE. Over the coming days, homeowners, developers, contractors and insurers will decide the full cost of the repairs that need to be done. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: For recently completed freehold properties in Dubai, the 10-year ‘structural warranty’ in place should be enough to take care of most issues stemming from the rain deluge of last week and the subsequent water logging within homes.

For newer properties of under 1-year completion and handover, the homeowners will also have the added protection of the ‘defects liability period’.

Under this cover, contractors associated with the project will need to rectify any building defects that could surface during this period, according to market sources.

With these two schemes in place – 10-year warranty and the defects liability period – most of the issues homeowners faced on their properties can be rectified, the sources add. In addition, the Dubai Land Department has also directed all property management companies and developers to offer a raft of services – at no extra cost for the affected homeowners. These include monitoring and documenting damages caused by the rains during the insurance coverage period.

Even within communities that bore the brunt of the storm, there were homes that came out of it unscathed, either because they were on an elevation or they just had better drainage systems in place.

- Mark Richards or Luxury Property

“Beyond that, and what many buyers don’t know, is that every component of a building has its own warranty with its own individual duration,” said Tizian Raab, spokesperson at Azizi Developments. “Waterproofing, for example, comes with a 10-year guarantee that must be honored by the contractor or sub-contractor.”

This week, homeowners, their developers and property management companies, contractors and insurance firms will start on the damage assessments set off by the rains. This process could take a week or two before the claims go into processing, insurers add.

What should homeowners do?

Seeing extended warranty coverage may not be feasible, the sources say, unless the homeowners are willing to pay out of their own pockets.

“I don't think there will be any changes to warranty coverages, simply because this is a rare and completely unexpected event,” said Mark Richards, Managing Director at Luxury Property, the Dubai-based estate agency. “What happened last week is something that nobody could have planned for, as such I don't see it having an impact on warranty periods going forward unless heavy rainfall becomes a common annual problem.

“Currently, the structural warranty is 10 years, and warranties for appliances and internal items like AC's and water heaters other items range from 12 months to 2 years.”

Under Dubai's JOP law, the seller (developer) is responsible for fixing all defects in the structural parts of the property for 10 years upon receiving the Building Completion Certificate. After the seller receives a written notice from the purchaser and/or project manager, they have to ensure all structural defects are rectified within a reasonable period of time

- Fintan Flannelly at Allsopp & Allsopp

Take out property insurance

Every homeowner knows the value of property insurance. Or they would know by now that it’s good to have one in place. While all those homeowners with current mortgages need to take out property cover, it’s entirely up to the individual to decide whether he or she needs such a cover if they don’t have any mortgages to bother about. Market feedback suggests that there are still property owners who may have opted not to take property insurance or may have seen their policies lapse after non-renewals.

After the rains it would seem counter-intuitive to sign up for new home insurance, but that’s exactly what they should be doing.

With the images of water pooling that we’ve seen, it is the insurance companies that are answerable to the repair costs that communities and owners incur. Insurance coverage, as well as budgets specifically set aside in escrow accounts for major community repairs, are covered by the yearly service charges that owners pay

- Tizian Raab of Azizi Developments

What should new offplan property buyers do?

“Today’s buyers are better educated than before and in many cases are aware of the 1 year DPL and the 10-year warranty provided for by the JOP (Jointly Owned Property) Law,” said Fintan Flannelly, Allsopp & Allsopp's Head of Developer Sales.

“These should be referenced in the SPA (sales and purchase agreement) and the purchaser retains a copy of it.

“I would also advise any client looking to purchase an offplan property to do their due diligence on the developer and also keep note of the main contractor(s) working on the project.

“If anything were to arise, the RERA approved managing agent appointed by the developer - in place of the previous ‘owner’s association - should have these details.

“Moving forward, I think purchasers will pay more attention to the developments in relation to their location and elevation within a community. This puts their property at lower risk from potential flooding should last week’s event become more frequent in the years ahead.”