Call to cut rental disputes

Move could also improve regulation of the sector

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Rental contracts in Abu Dhabi should be registered with municipal authorities to help reduce disputes between tenants and landlords in the emirate, according to a senior judge. The move could also improve regulation of the sector, said Amjed al Jehny, a consultant judge for the Rent Dispute Resolution Committee. Most of the disputes handled by the committee relate to non-payment of rent, subletting and the sharing of villas by bachelors or more than one family.

The committee was initially administered by the General Secretariat of the Executive Council but earlier this year was taken over by the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, with all cases chaired by judges. Mr al Jehny said better regulation and oversight of the rental sector could reduce the number of disputes ending up before judges. "One such example is to have the rent contract certified by the municipality. This would give the municipality a better idea of who is renting and in which location," he said. Mr al Jehny said that under a law drafted in 2006, which will be implemented in two months, disputes would be able to be resolved by the committee in one-day hearings. "This will put pressure on landlords and rent-seekers to take it more seriously rather than expecting the dispute to drag on and not remaining by their commitments."

Rents more than doubled in the capital between 2006 and 2008 and barely decreased during the economic downturn, mainly due to the lack of accommodation available. Sabry Emara, a senior economic researcher at the Department of Economic Development, said a regulator with similar powers to those of Dubai's Real Estate Regulatory Agency could benefit Abu Dhabi's property sector.