Onus on tenants to ask landlords for proof of paid service fees

Property experts advise asking agents for proof before signing and handing over money

Even though Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) may be planning to introduce a disclosure statement on service charges from landlords, the onus of seeking evidence of payment rests with renters.

Real estate brokerage firms in Dubai admit not many tenants do ask landlords to furnish evidence on payment of service charges before their sign their tenancy contract.

Zubin Firozi, Head of Property Management, Head Office, Better Homes, told Emirates 24|7: “Not all renters check whether the landlord has paid service fees or not, but we see it becoming more common among renters who want to rent on The Palm.

“Most are aware of past situations where access to facilities was denied for those units whose landlords had not paid service fees.”

Lesley Preston, Head of Office Sharjah, Cluttons, states tenants are advised to ask the questions and request proof that there is no debt outstanding from their agent before signing any paperwork and handing over their rental payments.

Asked if the brokerage firms ensure that the apartment/villa owners have no outstanding service charges before they list/rent their properties, Firozi says Better Homes informs the landlord that he/she needs to disclose the status of service fee payment and the implications of non-payment of the fees.

“We also encourage the parties to enter into a lease agreement that clarifies the responsibilities of service fee payment.

“Ultimately though, the lease is between the landlord and tenant and in many cases they have their own lease agreements.”

As for Cluttons, Preston says if they are renting a villa or apartment, which is owned by a private individual, they ask for evidence of paid up-to-date service charges before leasing the unit.

“We can also check with the master developer of the project and find out what is still outstanding.

“Quite often the Owners Association or property management company will also tell the security guards to ban the showing of vacant units where an outstanding payment is due.”

She adds that once the tenant has taken occupancy of the unit it would be advisable for them to make sure that on- going service charges are being paid by the owner.

“It is also worth noting that on top of the service charges, there can be other payments that the tenants might have to pay themselves like beach access on the Palm.”

Last week, Emirates 24|7 reported that Rera was planning to make it mandatory for landlords to provide a service charge disclosure statement.

The move is aimed at safeguarding renters who have no way to know if their landlord is a service charge defaulter.

Of late, a number of master developers have taken stringent measures such as barring tenants/owners from accessing facilities (gym and swimming pools) to even ceasing garbage collection services.

(Image courtesy Shutterstock)

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