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UAE Real Estate Laws and Regulations
The UAE experienced a tremendous building boom up till 2008 when the financial crisis hit. During that period, foreigners wanting to invest in the UAE were plenty. Today, post financial crisis as the market here is recovering, that appetite to buy new property and lease better property is once again on the rise.
UAE and GCC nationals can own property in the UAE. As a foreigner in the UAE, owning and / or leasing property needs to comply with laws and regulations that change from time to time. That said, in Dubai and the UAE, property law is young and is still taking shape.
In the UAE, each Emirate has developed its own laws. For example, to the best of my knowledge, in Fujairah, foreigners cannot buy property. However in Dubai, foreign ownership of freehold real property is permitted. There are “free-zones” within each Emirate designated for specific use. Each zone is a tax-free jurisdiction and has its own rules and regulations. A company established in a free zone can be 100 per cent owned by foreign nationals and may own freehold interests in real property within that zone.
Choosing the right real-estate agent is crucial to getting the right information, price and ultimate deal. A bit of your own research on what is out there, and what you are willing to spend over how long would also be beneficial.
You don’t have to be in Dubai to buy the property; it is possible for you to give Power of Attorney to a person to handle all the aspects of the purchase on their behalf but it is advisable that they check all the documentation and ensure that everything is clear before signing the deal.
Legalities regarding freehold ownership by non-UAE nationals and non-GCC nationals are ambiguous, as are the practices and procedures for issuing residence visas to expatriate buyers and their families. Some local banks offer mortgage finance to expatriates wanting to buy property in the UAE. It seems that finance can be arranged through overseas banks if you have assets overseas.
It’s in the UAE’s interest to allow buyers to own property and therefore there I have read about two new real estate laws that will improve protection for buyers, investors and landlords – and they are as follows:
A buyer can request the courts to cancel a contract if the developer ‘significantly changes’ the agreed specifications, or refuses to deliver the unit without a good reason. Buyers can also seek legal action if developers do not bind payments to approved construction based milestones or the unit is proved unstable due to major structural defects.
The regulations also stop developers from selling off plan units before taking possession, which includes actual control of the land.
Leasing accommodation is most common in the UAE. Contracts normally last a year during which the landlords are not permitted to increase the rent, until its time for renewal.
Landlords of leased apartments are normally required to handle the annual maintenance of their property and they are not permitted to evict a tenant without just cause within the tenancy contract time period.
All-in-all, the UAE is a great place to live and buy property. However, careful research into laws and regulations in a timely manner is a must.
The UAE is a good place to invest in when it comes to property. However, you need to make sure you have enough money to afford it. Buying a home might become difficult with the introduction of VAT.