Homefront: ‘Should I hire a company to manage my UAE property or do it myself remotely?’

Although self-managing a property is a cheap option for landlords, they will spend money and time to sort out maintenance problems in the long run

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I recently lost my job because of the Covid-19 pandemic and my family and I will soon be relocating to our home country. We bought a property in Abu Dhabi a few years ago and have decided to rent it out instead of selling it during these uncertain times.

However, we are unsure if it is better to manage the tenancy remotely or to engage a real estate agency to act on our behalf. What fees would we have to pay and what do we get in return in terms of management of the property? What would you advise us to do? DB, Abu Dhabi

I would always advocate using the services of a professional management company to look after anyone’s properties during a tenancy agreement, whether they are a resident landlord or living abroad like you.

Managing the property yourself would, on the face of it, seem to be the cheapest option. However, in the long run you end up spending not only money but also precious time to sort out whatever maintenance problems may arise in the future. Being non-resident will also add to this problem. I would suggest you contact one of the many management companies who will be able to look after your property properly.

With reference to fees, I suggest you shop around. Speak to the larger, more well-known agencies but also do not be afraid to engage with smaller companies. The industry norm for management fees is 4 per cent to 6 per cent and what they offer will vary from company to company. Most management companies should offer the following services:

  • Pre-handover process
  • Facilitate handover
  • Organise tenancy agreements and rent collection
  • Tenant move-in and changeovers
  • Utility connections and management
  • Maintenance and emergencies
  • Remote IT systems that ensure the landlord is connected wherever they reside
  • Organise property insurance
  • Management reports
  • Holding of monies/general float

While the above is not an exhaustive list, there will be companies that will do more than what I have suggested, while others will offer fewer services. This is where you can decide once you shop around and do your homework.

I recently renewed my residential lease in Dubai. The owner has changed the property management company. I handed over all my rental cheques for the year and other relevant documents to the old property management firm, which also assisted in generating an Ejari certificate for my new rental contract. They handed over all documents to the new company.

My first rent cheque was due in January, but it has not yet been deducted from my account. The new property management firm has also not sent me my copy of the rental contract. Should I be worried even though I have the Ejari as proof of the contract being generated?

The industry norm for management fees is 4 per cent to 6 per cent and the content of what is on offer will vary from company to company

I've been trying to reach out to the property management firm via their call centre and email, but they are taking forever to respond. What should I do? SP, Dubai

Irrespective of whether a new owner becomes your landlord or, as in your case, someone else takes over the management of the rental property you are living in, the terms and conditions of your tenancy contract remain the same. The fact that the first rental cheque has not been cashed yet should not be a worry for you. I suspect due to the changeover, the new management company is probably just catching up.

I’m sure that sooner or later the rental cheque will be cashed as the landlord will also no doubt be chasing them. Just make sure you have enough funds in your account to cover this cost at all times until it is cashed.

Having a legal and up-to-date Ejari certificate should also give you comfort. So, whatever happens to the old or existing management company, it should not affect you at all.

I do, however, recommend you continue communicating with the new management company. I’m sure someone will respond to you sooner or later. Alternatively, if you have an address for them, just turning up at their office would probably do the trick, too.

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