Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) has approved more than 150 home owners associations, the head of the real estate watchdog has said.

“We have registered more than 150 home owners associations,” Marwan Bin Ghalaita, CEO of RERA, told Arabian Business.

“They are in place, the board is there [and] they are…in charge now of deciding how much fees need to be collected, how the common area needs to be managed.”

The majority of the registered associations are in the new areas of Dubai such as the marina, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Old Town and The Palm Jumeirah, said Ghalaita, adding the watchdog had received “a lot” more applications.

Strata law, which allows property owners to take control of a building’s service fees, was decreed in 2007 but only implemented in May last year.

Home owners associations and the first set of service charges must first be approved by RERA.

Under the law, registered homeowner associations have the power to recover service fees from owners who default on payments.
Homeowners will also not be able to transfer the deeds of their property until any outstanding service fees are settled.

However, there have been fears that homeowner groups could find themselves insolvent as soon as they take over a building, due to previous owners failing to pay their service fees.

Ghalaita said the biggest problem with strata law is raising awareness. “The problem with home owners associations is once the homeowners association is there, it is the activity of the board to face the owners, not RERA but this education is not there yet,” he said.

“We are new, we keep telling them your home owners association has been established so go to them, talk to them, communicate with them.”
The average service charge for those associations that have already been approved is AED14 per sq ft, said Ghalaita. “There are no caps. We approve the first one and then the second is approved by the owners themselves,” he said.

“The average price so far for Dubai is AED14 per sq ft but it depends on the community and on the building,” he added. “There are no caps by RERA, it depends on the structure itself; you cannot cap it.”