Here’s how to solve your property problems

Our resident property expert Alan Kaye, director of business development at District Real Estate, gives his advice on landlord fees and where your municipality charge goes.

I heard that a municipality charge of five percent is going to be applied to all expats who are renting a property. What is a municipality charge and what does it cover?

The charge is collected with the Abu Dhabi Distribution Company (ADDC) bill
and is used by the municipality towards basic community services such as rubbish collection and street maintenance.

It was introduced in February 2016 at two percent, and an announcement was made in
May this year that it would be increased to five percent.

However, although the law is in place, it has still not been implemented. When it is, it’s likely to be backdated to May so you should be prepared to pay the backdated amount.

We have just moved to Abu Dhabi and have started looking at villas and apartments. However, we have noticed that for identical properties there
is often a big difference in the price being asked. Why is this?

The Abu Dhabi market is very confusing, which is why I always suggest to make
sure that you are dealing with a reputable real estate company registered with the municipality.

The differences to which you refer are because there are different owners who set their own prices and have different expectations of what they want to receive in rent.

A good agent will be able to advise you of what is a fair price and negotiate on your behalf.

I have given my landlord four cheques but he has just informed me that two of them have been mislaid. He has asked me to replace them but I am nervous in case he finds the mislaid ones and cashes those as well. What do you suggest I do?

The obvious answer is to cancel the mislaid cheques with the bank and issue new ones. Unfortunately in the UAE it is not that simple, as cancelling a cheque can involve obtaining various documents including a letter from the police.

I would therefore suggest that you speak to your landlord directly and explain your concerns.

Ask him to send you an email confirming the loss of the cheques and that you have given him replacements. Make sure to quote the cheque numbers of both the lost and replacement cheques.

I would also inform your bank of the situation and make sure they also make a note.

We have just moved out after one year, but the landlord wants to charge us for repainting the whole villa. It was only my wife and I, and as far as I can see we gave it back in a perfect condition. The cost will be deducted from our security deposit. Can we fight this?

A rented villa has to be given back to the landlord in the same state that it was given to you.

Unfortunately, different landlords have different interpretations of this requirement, and in some lease contracts an amount to be deducted for painting is actually stated.

I would suggest you talk to your landlord and ask him to come over and check; it may be that you can reach an agreement on what exactly needs to be done and thereby reduce the cost.

If you have any property related queries, send them to 

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