It's a strange, almost guilty feeling to be complimentary about a government agency when we all spend so much time snarling and bitching about the likes of the RTA and the 'responsible authorities' in general. But Rera, Dubai's Real Estate Regulatory Agency, really does seem to be doing a remarkable job of tidying up what was a very messy area indeed.
Dubai has long been in the habit of making a virtue of its 'laissez faire' attitude. In this case, laissez faire usually meant 'we can't be bothered doing anything about it' or 'this threatens some vested interest or another so let's just pretend it's not there'. These days you start to feel that there's a great big spring clean going on out there - and Rera's certainly cleaning up the real estate market.
Today's news is that owners of leases in jointly owned buildings such as flats will be able to set up an owner's association and take joint responsibility for the maintenance of the property and lands. This means that developers can no longer charge the sometimes amazing maintenance fees that they have been leveraging in the past and also gives people the right to pick their own choice of contractors. However, the developer still gets to charge a fee to cover infrastructure maintenance and this may mean the overall cost stays high. That's a wait and see situation. But the right to association is a very important principle indeed to have established.
BTW - another screwed up website (the RTA site is up today): the Rera site's homepage will display a delightful 'Coming soon' splashscreen, so go to this link to actually browse the contents. Judging from the spelling and formatting, it's still very much under construction. Which is rather ironic, isn't it?
Rera has also (to my absolute delight) announced it is to regulate the real estate advertising market to ensure that developers only promote their schemes truthfully. Developers have to submit their advertisements to Rera before they can run. I do believe that government regulation of any form of media is a very bad thing, but I am highly amused at the idea of a room full of harrassed Rera staff trying to find any grain or shred of truth in the tide of insanely hyperbolic real estate advertising that is currently swamping every white space in Dubai. It must be like fighting a path through an enormous cloud of prozac-laced candyfloss using nothing more than a cocktail stick.
Or something like that.