Owners must pay up service fee
It is the sole responsibility of the property owner to ensure that the master developer's service charges have been paid before a unit is leased out to unsuspecting tenants, say 50 per cent of those surveyed in an Emirates 24|7 poll.
Twenty-five per cent of the participants say the responsibility should rest with the regulator/developer to stop landlords with service charge arrears from leasing their units.
While only 13 per cent say tenants should insist on proof of service charge payment before siging a contract and an equal number (12 per cent) put the responsibility on property agents.
Service charges have once again become a contentious issue, with Nakheel, the Dubai-based master developer, threatening to take legal action against those who do not pay an additional fee to access services at some of its developments, along with restricting their access to common areas in certain of its developments.
With a large number of its apartments leased out, it is the tenants who will have to face the brunt if Nakheel does go ahead and restrict residents' access to swimming pools and other common utilities within the buildings. Recently, Dubai's Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Rera) stepped in and said that Nakheel could not insist on an addiitonal fee from its clients as long as they have already paid the annual serviuce fee.
On one hand, some experts say developers make money through facilities management while on the other side, developers are threatening defaulters with legal action.
Although Emirates 24|7 earlier reported that agents generally do not ask property owners on whether they have paid service charges prior to listing their units, a senior executive of a reputed real estate agency admitted that leasing agents must fulfil their role in profiling the landlord just as they profile tenants to ensure that they will not default on their rent payments.
“Having said that, we cannot just blame the agents for any misconduct that takes place from the side of the landlord or tenant, nor can we blame the developer or the owners’ association for taking action against the defaulting owners.
Tenants and landlords must respect and fulfil their duties towards each other and towards the communities they are part of,” he added.
A prospective tenant, who spoke to this website, said he would ensure that he asks the owner to show them receipts of service charge payment.
“I am in negotiation with an apartment owner in a tower which has facilities such as swimming pool, gym, steam and sauna. But I want to ensure that the owner has paid his service charges and so I have asked him to show me the receipts. I will rent it out only if he is not a defaulter,” Ibrahim J, a Syrian, said.
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