Homefront: 'Is it safe to pay my rent to the landlord's power of attorney?'

The Dubai tenant is concerned about becoming a victim of fraud

The tenant has been told to make the payment this way by the landlord's agent. Photo:istockphoto.com
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I need to renew my current lease but the owner's representative insists I make the cheque payable to the Power of Attorney (POA) and not the owner. I am very uncomfortable with this. In the past, I have seen you write in your column that you should only make a cheque payable to the owner,  as there can be many shady things the owner/representative has already done. This might include not paying service fees, not reimbursing me for major expenses in the apartment and so on. 

My lease expires in three weeks and they are only springing this on me now (in the final moments of the contract). They also have still not paid me over Dh4,000 for work I paid for, which they agreed to reimburse. Plus the landlord's agent has my security deposit and I have little time to find a new place. Does the Real Estate Regulatory Agency or the Dubai Land Department have a rule that cheques should be payable to the owner of property – in other words, the person whose name is listed on the title deed? What do you suggest? Risk paying the POA or find another place to live? RT, Dubai 

Any rental payments have to be made in the name of the owner (as per the title deed) and this includes if there is more than one person represented. This is the Rera rule.

I realise that sometimes an owner may not have a bank account in the UAE, if they are not residing here, but this is easily resolved by transferring monies via bank transfer etc. The only time a tenant should write the rental cheque to anybody other than the owner is if the owner has appointed a representative with POA. In these instances, you must make sure the POA document is legal and by that I mean in date. POA documents generally have a validity date of two years so please check this. Also, carefully read the document thoroughly and ensure the person with POA can indeed receive the rent in his/her name.

The reason rental cheques should be in the owner's name is obviously to avoid any fraud. As mentioned, check the POA document carefully and, if it is all OK, it is allowed to pay the rent this way.

If it makes you feel more secure and for added comfort, you could always ask the owner directly to email you (so that it is in writing) that he is happy for you to write out the rent cheque in the name of the POA. You can do this just to check that the owner's representative is acting in accordance with the owner's wishes.

You can never be too careful in these situations as rental cheques have been misappropriated by individuals far too many times. These crooks have managed to get their hands on money illegally by using fake documents.

Mario Volpi is the sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers. He has worked in the property sector for 35 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