Queue at Rent Regulation Department Sharjah. Image Credit: Atiq ur Rehman/Gulf News

Sharjah: The tenancy contract attestation fee hike of four per cent will not be applied to tenants whose contracts were due for renewal before August 1, Sharjah Municipality announced on Sunday.

A two-month grace period has been given to tenants to complete all procedures, while avoiding the fee hike, which comes into effect starting August 1.

More than 6,000 people scrambled to get their contracts attested at Sharjah Municipality’s attestation offices on Sunday before the new hike is implemented. The massive rush was witnessed because even those whose contracts are due to expire at the end of the year, were also queuing up to avoid the new hike.

In an announcement on Sunday, Riyadh Abdullah, director-general of Sharjah Municipality, said that a two-month grace period until October 1 will be given to those whose contract expired before August 1, following directives from the Sharjah Executive Council.

He added that those who fail to renew their contracts before October 1 will have to pay a penality as a late fee.

He said the decision has made to make it easier for landlords and residents by giving them a window to fulfil their formalities.

The new fee hike will still be applied on contracts due for renewal from August 1.

Starting Monday, the attestation fees for residential tenancy contracts has increased from two per cent to four per cent of the annual rent.

Fees for attesting commercial tenancy contracts has been increased from two per cent to five per cent, while attestation fees for investment contracts has increased from one per cent to three per cent of the annual rent, with a minimum fee of Dh1,000.

The lease agreement documents also cost more starting August 1. Customers will have to pay Dh100 instead of Dh50 per tenancy contract document.

Ali Ahmad, head of the tenancy contract attestation department at the municipality, said that even though there was a huge increase in the number of people at the centres, all the procedures were completed as the working hours were also extended to 5pm.

“We haven’t received any complaints in the past few weeks from any of the tenants regarding delays in processing their files or not accepting them. The municipality ensured there were more staff and counters to process all the work. There were more reception halls provided to welcome people, including special waiting halls for women, people with special needs and the elderly.”

Last week, the municipality announced that within the next two months, it will be mandatory for landlords and real estate agents to carry out the procedure solely online.

In a circular that was issued recently, the civic body said that effective from September 1, landlords and real estate agents will have to adopt the online tenancy renewal system.

However, new contracts will still have to be registered and attested on paper with Sharjah Municipality.

The deadline of July 31 saw unprecedented lines at municipality customer service centres across Sharjah. The rush was heaviest at the main attestation office in Industrial Area 5, where lines snaked around the building.

“I went to multiple centres before they even opened [at 7.30am on Sunday morning] but there were already huge lines everywhere, especially at Industrial Area 5. Some people had lined up since 5am. I put my last hope in Khalidiya centre, near Sharjah Cooperative Society, because it’s usually not crowded. But it was full even before doors officially opened and I was told they were only taking new contracts, not renewals, which was my case. So I gave up and went home to sleep,” said an Indian applicant who did not wish to be named.

At the Tas’heel service centre in Industrial Area 18, which also attests contracts, a receptionist said there were only 50 attestation service tokens available, which had run out well before 9am.

Another Indian applicant who also tried at least three different centres, gave up after seeing the lines.

“I hoped that the deadline would be extended for all cases regardless of when their renewal is due.

I’m afraid of paying double since I couldn’t do it on Sunday morning, but since I have to pay extra I’ll go whenever it’s convenient for me,” said O.M., 31, an applicant.

- With inputs from Faisal Masudi, Staff Reporter