Your property questions answered by our expert

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From the soaring utility bills to extending leasing contracts, District Real Estate’s head of sales and leasing Alan Kaye answers your property queries

Q.We have a problem with our neighbour’s dog that is left alone and sometimes barks for hours non-stop. What do you suggest that we should do.

A. I assume that you are in a building that allows dogs as many do not allow animals or if they do, only cats.

I make this point as if you were to make an official complaint to the property management your neighbour could be served with a notice to either leave as they would be breaking the terms of their lease or get rid of the dog.

I would suggest that you therefore write to them pointing out that you would like to resolve this matter as amicably as possible and ask them to come up with a solution. They may not, of course, realise the problem and be grateful to you for informing them.

Q. I understand that the rent cap that was removed in 2013 has been reintroduced at the end of last year. I am about to rent an apartment. Can you advise how this will affect me?

A. A five percent rent cap was put in place in a surprise announcement last December. Rent caps are normally applied when rents are rising but in many parts of Abu Dhabi they had been falling, hence the surprise.

We, at District Real Estate, were able to negotiate substantial rent reductions with landlords on the basis that there was not a rent cap in place and they would be able to recoup rent reductions in future years.

In reality rents on current properties will now most probably stop falling and start to plateau. Landlords will instead offer rent-free periods or other incentives to lure prospective tenants.

Rents, however, in future years can only be increased by a maximum of five percent.

Note that when you receive a new rent demand showing an increase, it is for you to negotiate. My advice, therefore, to anyone about to rent is to only deal with a reputable real estate company that will be able to show you options and advise and negotiate on your behalf.

Q. I am new to the UAE having just arrived with an eighteen-month work contract. I want to start viewing some properties but understand that a lease can only be granted for one year. What do you suggest?

A. A lease can be granted for any term but in Abu Dhabi it is normal for that term to be one year.

My suggestion is to contact a reputable real estate company such as District that will find you a property and then try to negotiate an eighteen-month lease term.

An alternative is to rent a property for a year but check if the landlord will then let you extend it for a further period. Many will do this but charge you a premium on the rent. How much will depend on your negotiating skills!

Q. We viewed an apartment on Al Reem Island which we decided to rent. We paid the reservation/security deposit to the agent but unfortunately we have now found out that our school bus does not go to Reem and we therefore no longer wish to rent this apartment. The agent has refused to refund the deposit. Where do we stand?

A. When you agree to rent a property you have entered into a legally binding agreement to take the property, normally for one year.

If you dealt with a reputable agent you would have signed a lease reservation form, which should clearly state the full details of the property and payment terms.

In the District Real Estate form it also clearly states that the reservation/security deposit is non-refundable.

The landlord could hold you responsible to pay the rent until it is rented to another tenant so losing the deposit could be only the beginning of your problems. Maybe you should see if you can make another arrangement to get your children to school.

Q.Earlier this year I received my monthly bill from ADDC. It is normally around AED 400 but this one is over AED 4,000. I know that charges were going up but this is ridiculous and it was an unusual amount last month too, though not as high. Can you explain what is happening?

A. This is a shock that all expats are unfortunately going to be having in the next couple of months. If you look carefully at your bill you will find three charges; one for electricity, one for water and a municipality charge.

The water and electricity charges have been increased by around four percent but the new charge is the one for the municipality, which is three percent of your annual rent. It was announced in February 2016 but little more was heard about it until last December when it was announced that it would commence in January 2017.

What was also announced was that it would be applied for the period from February 2016 to December 2016 as a one off lump sum.

I have been contacted by a number of clients who have tried to negotiate paying this one-off charge but they have been advised by ADDC that they are not in a position to accept any payment proposal as they are simply collecting it on behalf of the municipality.

Your future monthly bills will therefore now include three percent of your annual rent.

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