More property joy

A neighbour of ours came around today to warn us what the latest nonsense from our property company will be.

Apparently some documents are ready that give us official title over what we’ve bought. There’s a cost to pay, but this cost was clearly explained when we bought the property, so isn’t too nasty a surprise.

What is a surprise is that the property company won’t issue the deeds unless owners pay their 2009 service fees up front. 12 months’ fees are being asked for. Apparently the property company hasn’t quite decided what to charge us for 2009, so is simply saying ‘don’t worry, just pay what you did last year and if we decide to charge you a bit more, we’ll let you know’.

Readers may remember that we were promised an 8Dh per square foot service fee when we bought, were then charged 26.8Dhs per square foot for the first three months we were in the apartment, followed by having to pay for 2008’s charges in September, at a cost of 35Dhs per square foot.

This means we’re being asked to pay a fortune, upfront, with possible additional charges being levied later, only a few months after having been forced to fork out for the last lot of fees.

We can’t dispute any of this as there is no tenants’ association, something we won’t have until October 2009 as the association can only be created by the property company itself.

Money from service fees is only legally supposed to be spent on maintaining the area. Given that so many apartments in the development are sold but remain empty, my guess is that service fees are not being collected from ‘owners’ who are simply keeping their apartments empty in the hope of selling them on for a profit later. These owners have probably never collected the keys, so have never been obliged to pay their service fees, which means there’s a shortfall that we’re being asked to cover. Or maybe I am completely wrong. Who knows.

If we had a tenants’ association, the developer would have to open their accounts to justify the amount charged as service fees. I would think it reasonable to have to pay a service fee monthly or, at worst, quarterly and for the company to provide that information whether there is an association or not.

In additional news, I recently received an answer from the property company, explaining why the promised barbecue zones were never installed. Apparently they were left out because our development is ‘small and intimate’ and the zones would have created too much of a smell and disturbance. This seems an odd response from a developer that has split the area in two with a three lane road with no traffic calming – this is no access road, but a large ‘through route’, filled with people cutting their way past people’s quiet and intimate apartments, cars racing and revving their engines at night and even a doubledecker tourist bus driving past once every couple of hours. As well as this, the roads are cobbled, which increases traffic noise by a huge amount. Hardly small and intimate and an odd way to design a development.

There is still no update on our leaking roof, either. I have also not received any details on what soundproofing was placed between apartments. Now that our neighbours are using the rooms adjacent to our apartment, I can hear people chatting away, moving chairs, clicking around in high heels and so on. The amount of noise that comes through is far higher than any other apartment I have ever lived in, including budget student accommodation.

The development is lovely and I do enjoy living here. In general, it’s all very attractive and relatively well thought out. What’s ruining my and other tenants’ enjoyment of the area and our investment is a constant erosion of goodwill, thanks to a flow of unexpected and exorbitant fees, reneged promises, bad workmanship, increased traffic and general lack of thought. Goodness know what things will be like when the various towers around the area, which we knew nothing about when we bought, are built.

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One Response to “More property joy”

  1. Seabee Says:

    It’s a not uncommon problem, especially the arrogant ‘take it or leave it’ attitude of too many developers. But not all Dubai real estate is the same, there’s a more positive story too.
    We were as careful as we could be choosing a development & developer before we bought. We decided against buying in a development with huge common and public areas which have high maintenance costs, we bought in a building which was well on the way to being completed and was from a reputable developer which is part of one of the big local family trading groups. Face and reputation matter to them.
    It worked.
    We’ve just had our annual meeting with them which was very satisfactory. We rejected the first presentation as there was no back up data. Two weeks later we reconvened, they presented every bill and contract and justified every dirham. They reduced some items, renogiated others. The staff in the building couldn’t be better and every snag or problem has been fixed. Original two year maintenance fee was Dh8, the third was Dh10 and next year is Dh12.

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