A tower that is home to Dubai's most expensive apartments is set to become the first building in the emirate to be run by homeowners.
The owners association of Le Reve in Dubai Marina has registered its final papers with Dubai's Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) in a major milestone for the rights of property owners throughout the emirate.
It means owners will be able to appoint their own contractors, collect fees and establish a bank account to take charge of the shared facilities in their building, such as the car park, swimming pool and lifts.
Scores of owners associations are in the process of being established across Dubai - many of which are in large communities run by master developers such as Nakheel and Emaar.
But they have not yet received final regulatory approval - which means developers can still intervene and assert their control over commonly held areas.
"Strictly speaking, a lot of the associations that are being formed and that are electing boards do not have legal standing and are interim - as such the developer makes the choice of whether to listen to them," said Kent O'Brien, the chief executive of Strata Global Group, which helped establish the owners association at Le Reve.
A spate of high-profile spats between developers and residents have highlighted the confusion surrounding the status of owners associations and control of common areas.
A dispute between Nakheel and property owners on the Palm Jumeirah about access to the beach made headlines in January when police were forced to intervene.
A draft investor protection law currently in circulation also created a stir last week when one of its articles appeared to suggest that developers would be given control of common areas where such rights were contained in the original sales and purchase agreement. Lawyers say the clause is open to interpretation and are unclear about its intention.
Verve Developments built the 50-storey Le Reve in 2007, which contains just 80 apartments. The tower, designed to target "the rich and famous" was sold out before completion.
Le Reve has some of the richest tenants of any building in the country and has the most expensive apartment currently on the market in the city - a six-bedroom unit that covers almost 16,000 square feet and has a price tag of Dh39 million (US$10.6m), according to Better Homes, a sales agent.
It comes with chauffeur accommodation in the basement car park.
Verve Developments and the Dubai Land Department declined to comment.
"This is an extremely important step and a milestone for Rera," said Mohammed Ahmed Yahya, a senior director at Wasl Properties, which manages 20,000 residential and commercial properties across Dubai.
He added creating a fully functioning owners association could be easier for smaller developers that do not have to grapple with the scale of issues facing the larger master developers.
"The larger the clientele the more problems that keep accruing. If you have a single building or a few buildings, it is more straightforward than if you are an Emaar or Nakheel and you have to deal with thousands of owners, which can create a lot of problems."
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