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Sun 19 Oct 2008 03:35 PM

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New real estate laws in pipeline for Abu Dhabi

EXCLUSIVE: Municipality in talks over radical shake-up to property market.

Abu Dhabi is drawing up plans to introduce similar real estate laws to Dubai in a radical shake-up of the emirate’s property market, Arabian Business has learnt.

Dubai-based law firm Al Tamimi has been in talks with the Department for Municipal Affairs in Abu Dhabi, which handles real estate legislation for the emirate, over proposals to introduce strata, broker, and escrow laws, that would improve regulation and give investors greater confidence when investing in the region.

Walter Robinson, an associate lawyer at Al Tamimi’s Abu Dhabi office, who is advising the local authorities on the plans, told Arabian Business: “This would give investors comfort to know they are investing in a property with a real title deed and that the system of ownership is recognised in line with best international practices.” Central to the proposed introduction of the laws would be a change in the freehold ownership of land.

In 2002, Dubai introduced freehold ownership of property in selected areas, sparking its six-year real estate boom.

Robinson said introduction of freehold ownership rights was a necessary and fundamental change to property laws in Abu Dhabi.

Plans are underway to bring in strata laws, which regulate the ownership of units within a building and broker laws, which regulate the practices of estate agents and commercial leasing agents.

An escrow law protects investors and ensures developers actually deliver projects. The legislation being considered by Abu Dhabi would cover commercial and residential property.