Dr Habib Al Mulla criticises the UAE's real estate watchdog over lack of legislation
Top UAE lawyer Dr Habib Al Mulla has accused real estate watchdog RERA of dragging its heels on the formation of a real estate law in the country.
In an interview in Arabian Business, Al Mulla said: “In property there is no framework to protect the consumers. We need a proper strong real estate law in Dubai and in the UAE.
"Until now we have not seen anything tangible come out of RERA. I think they are well behind and they need to speed up.”
Al Mulla added he was concerned that no strong legal infrastructure had been put in place during the recent recession.
He added: “We have seen two phases. The phase of growth and the phase of slowdown. Unfortunately in both cases we have not dealt with the situation properly.
"During the boom no one cared to look at the legislation we have put in place and in slowdown people were concerned with other things. My fear is again we are seeing this level of growth and not enough attention is being paid to the legal infrastructure.”
Last year, indebted developer Nakheel sparked huge controversy after banning several tenant on the Palm Jumeriah from using its beaches. The developer claimed it was within its rights to do so over unpaid service fees – despite the fact that most of those banned were tenants who are not responsible for service fees.
At the time, UAE business legend Khalaf Al Habtoor told Arabian Business: “It was 100 percent [damaging] and unacceptable. If I am buying a house and using the beach and later told I have to pay for the beach, this is abnormal. This is damaging the reputation of my country.” Habtoor added:
“I am 100 percent sure that the higher authorities were not aware of such a thing because they would not have accepted it…. They would never have [agreed to] it but some people try to show they are making money for the government – they are damaging its reputation two million times [over] for a few dirhams.”
Al Mulla said Habtoor’s comments are “strong” but admits there are “concerns” – however, he says the wider issue needs to be examined, and is again a problem that needs to be laid at RERA’s door.
“There has been legal vacuum so developers have filled in the gaps with contractual arrangements. Because there was no legal framework these contractual arrangements were made, so maybe they (Nakheel) have been contractually right to do so. Now this is where RERA has to step in and say even though you have contractual rights, there are also consumer rights.”