Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Electronic Tenancy Contracts. Whoopeedoo.

Contracts (Photo credit: NobMouse)
So Sharjah is talking about online electronic tenancy contracts. This is a good thing, albeit the cynically minded might point out it's coming a bit late in the day. We can only hope it won't be the usual laughing implementation of 'fill out the e-form, print it out and then bring it to us with all the necessary documents' so beloved of the Gulf e-government sites.

The way it works here in the UAE is that you have an annual tenancy contract (unless you've 'bought' a house here) and this needs to be ratified by the municipality otherwise it's not considered a legal contract. If you've heard of the shenanigans between landlords and tenants I have over the past brace of decades, you'd want that contract in place.

In order to do this, you have to take the Arabic language contract, duly signed and stamped by all concerned, your passport copy, a copy of the landlord's ownership certificate, your marriage certificate (just so's they know you're not a bachelor living in a family area) and your up to date electricity and water bill and any other paperwork they decide on the day is required (so you take every possible form of paperwork in the world) to the Municipality, where you join the shuffling hordes in jostling to get a ticket from the paperwork checker before sitting down and waiting for your number to come up. When this eventually happens, you wait for the nice Emirati lady to tip tip tap for a while, hand over 2% of the rental (this is a fee, you understand, not a tax) and Robert's yer father's brother.

Moving this online makes so much sense it's not true. Upload some scans, pay by Visa and what is currently at least a two-hour face to face shuffling unpleasantness becomes a ten minute online administrative task.

It's actually so simple, the question isn't so much when they're going to do it as it is why it wasn't done years ago. Ironically, I am now off to the Municipality to get my tenancy attested - hopefully for the last time!
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