Homefront: 'Do I have to pay Dh10,000 to an agent for selling my property?'

The UAE resident recently sold his apartment in Abu Dhabi but never agreed to pay the seller's fee

It is not actually illegal for a broker to charge both the buyer and seller of a property in the UAE. AFP
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I have just completed the sale of my apartment in Abu Dhabi, where the buyer paid the usual 2 per cent commission to the agent. In the early days of the process, the agent also sent me a contract to sign requiring me to pay a further Dh10,000 to the agent as the seller. I refused to sign this and received a couple of other emails, again indicating the Dh10,000 fee, which I again refused to acknowledge or sign. My understanding is that it is the buyer's responsibility to pay an agent's fees. I am now receiving threatening texts from the agent asking me to pay up or they will take legal action. Am I liable or for this Dh10,000 fee? It seems an arbitrary number and certainly is not a set percentage of the apartment cost. SW, Abu Dhabi

In the past, the obligation to pay the broker from the sale of a property did in fact fall just on the buyer; this is still true to this day. Having said that, there is growing pressure on sellers to also pay a fee to their broker however, this has to be agreed at the start of any deal. It is not actually illegal for a broker to charge both the buyer and seller, however, this can only be done transparently and of course with everyone’s full knowledge and acceptance.

Given you have engaged with your agent to express your displeasure about this fee means you do not automatically have to pay it. Explain to the agent that you did not agree to this seller's fee, therefore it cannot be paid. If he insists on threatening you with legal action, I would not worry too much. In any case if he does take it further, I’m certain that you will be fine as you never agreed to pay a seller's fee in the first place and a judge will take note of that.


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My tenant's contract is expiring in January and the rental index allows for an increase in the rent. If I decide to increase the rent, what is the mode of communication to inform my tenant about the increase. I was considering sending him an email but was not too sure if it is valid or not. KM, Dubai 

I’m surprised that the rental index is allowing an increase in your rent but this may mean you have been charging a much lower rate than the market allows in the past. Nevertheless, you can communicate the potential increase in rent in writing. Engaging in dialogue via email is a perfectly acceptable way of letting your tenant know of your intention. The only time sending a notification via notary public or registered mail is necessary is when you wish your tenant to vacate for reason of selling or moving in yourself. However, this notification must be sent with 12 month's notice.

Mario Volpi is the sales and leasing manager at Engel & VolkersHe has worked in the property sector for 34 years in London and Dubai

The opinions expressed do not constitute legal advice and are provided for information only. Please send any questions to mario.volpi@engelvoelkers.com