Dec 20, 2009

Abu Dhabi tenancy contract period extended

Abu Dhabi: The legal protection period covering tenancy contracts in Abu Dhabi has been extended from four to five years, while the yearly rent increase will remain capped at 5 per cent, according to a new decision.

General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, has issued the decision amending Article 20 of Law 6 for 2009.

Law 6 amends the earlier Law 20 for 2006 related to property renting and regulating the tenancy relation between landlord and tenant in Abu Dhabi.

The decision aims to rebalance and stabilise the property market through market mechanisms and the principle of supply and demand as many new residential and commercial units enter the market.

The Executive Office also issued decision No. 76 for 2009, setting up a committee to study the economic and social dimensions of the legal regulation of tenancy contracts.

The committee will study the economic, social and financial effects of any amendments on tenancy contracts, the property market and offer and demand forces on all categories of residential units.

It will also study all aspects related to imposing a rent cap and how it affects offer and demand and inflation rates.

The committee will suggest necessary amendments to legislations regulating tenancy relations.

It may seek the help of experts and consultants to help it achieve its targets and discharge its responsibilities, and has to submit its recommendations to the council within four months of the date of issuing the decision.

The committee’s report may pave the way to introducing important amendments to the frameworks and regulations of property leasing in the emirate.

Rental scam: Look before you leap

Dubai: Various rental scams have emerged recently as rogue real estate brokers take advantage of sliding rents to rope in victims.

In one incident in June, victims were left reeling when shadowy agents vanished after taking advance bookings and deposits from several home-seekers for the same villa in The Springs.

Another rental scam in March this year involved units in the posh Dubai Marina area, offered at fantastically low rents.

The scammer offered apartments well below the market value. The "owner" said he had gone back to London for work, but had left the contract and keys with a local broker. The agent contacted potential victims and asked for a Dh5,000 deposit via Moneygram or Western Union and promised to deliver the keys and contract by courier in 48 hours.

Be cautious

After residential rents tumbled 40 per cent and office rents slid by 50 per cent — as reported by CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) — in the first half of 2009, further drops in commercial and residential rents may be expected with the prevailing uncertainty.

As residents take advantage of the drop in rents, bonafide brokers urge people to check everything before writing out their cheques.

Rental scams: How to avoid them

1 Ask for the broker's ID card issued by the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Rera). This indicates that the broker is genuine and has undergone a licensing process with the authority. A list of Rera-accredited brokers with their phone and fax numbers is available on http://rpdubai.ae/. In general, the longer the experience of the broker or his company, the higher the credibility.

2 Talk to several agents when looking for a rental unit. Brokers charge five per cent of the rent as standard "service fee", payable upon signing a rental contract. After discussing your needs with several agents, decide which one gives a good level of service, has access to suitable properties, is prepared to go the "extra mile" and locates a rental property for you.

3 Deal only with reputable companies. They are usually more professional in doing their job.

4 Ask for a copy of proof of ownership of the property being rented out. A genuine agent operates from a proper office, and can present the owner's documents (including a copy of the landlord's passport and proof of ownership).

5 Ask for a copy of the trade licence of the broker. If you sense any abuse or fraud, gather documents and immediately submit them to Rera (call centre: +971-4-222 1112 ; fax: +971-4-221 5533 or log on to http://rpdubai.ae/)

6 Always pay with a cheque and insist on receipts. When paying an advance (which can be adjusted against the deposit or agent's commission) it must be in the name of the real estate company, never in the name of the individual broker. If an agent asks for a cheque to be written in the landlord/owner's name, he must provide proper documents/authorisation — that he is authorised by the landlord to collect the money.

7 Don't issue cheques in the name of an individual. Issue cheques in the name of the company. This will prevent even licensed brokers from running away with your money. The more cheques the better (some landlords now agree to 12 cheques).

8 Read the tenancy contract carefully before signing — and make sure there are no objectionable provisions. Provisions on who pays for what — such as repairs, maintenance — shall be stipulated in the contract, which binds both parties to it.

9 Before taking possession, ask for an ‘entry condition report' to protect you against claims for damage or condition which was present before you occupied it. This must be signed by both parties. Take photographs of any damage which you're concerned about to ensure that you are not blamed for it later and get the landlord or landlord's agent to sign these immediately. Upon leaving the property, an ‘exit condition report' is completed by the tenant and landlord (or landlord's agent) and both reports must match.

Abu Dhabi to implement new fire code by next year

Abu Dhabi: New buildings in Abu Dhabi should ensure proper maintenance of safety systems as the International Fire Code for buildings will come into force from early 2010, authorities have said.

Periodic inspection and testing requirements will apply to all safety items and processes to reduce the threat of fire and minimise its impact, said a statement by the Department of Municipal Affairs (DMA) on Sunday.

The DMA is implementing stringent procedures to enforce the new codes across the Emirate's construction industry.

The code is expected to make the buildings in the emirate better protected against fire as all new construction and additions to existing structures will be required to comply with the code. Buildings should have safe and clearly indicated fire exits, smoke detectors, sprinkler systems and alarms that will alert occupants of any emergency situations.

Sessions

Safety during the construction phase is also addressed as the new fire code will ensure that workers and property under construction are well protected.

"The new family of building codes, including the fire code, requires all buildings to follow international standards of fire safety that will better protect the lives and property of our people across the Emirate," said Rashid Al Hajeri, chairman of DMA and chairman of the Building Codes Higher Council.

Hundreds of fire protection system designers, engineers, architects, and code enforcement agency professionals from across the Emirate attended the Building and Fire Codes Training Sessions.

"Once the codes are implemented, a new era of safety will begin where buildings will be better equipped to resist fire, thus protecting the lives of its occupants," said Ahmad Sharif, Under-Secretary of DMA.

"We will work continually with the International Code Council to ensure that the adopted Abu Dhabi Building Codes will represent current, safe and accepted technology that suits the Emirate of Abu Dhabi," he said.

Pedways planned to link major buildings in Dubai

Dubai: After putting a fully integrated public transport system in place, Dubai is now planning to build climate controlled pedways to link major buildings to promote a walking culture.

"Apart from the existing and planned air-conditioned pedestrian crossings, we are planning to build air-conditioned pedways to link major buildings, shopping centres, Metro stations and bus stations.

The aim is to make Dubai a pedestrian-friendly city and to encourage people to walk to cover short distances," said Abdul Mohsin Ebrahim, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Strategy and Corporate Governance Sector at the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

Ebrahim told Gulf News in an exclusive interview that pedways either underground, on the ground or elevated would link buildings in areas such as Shaikh Zayed Road.

"We want to see a 20 per cent increase in pedestrian traffic and a 30 per cent decrease in pedestrian fatalities in the next three years as part of the Dubai Pedestrian Safety and Mobility Plan."

According to the RTA's statistics, 49 pedestrians were killed on Dubai's roads in 2001 and in 2007 the figure was 145. However, the number of pedestrians killed in 2008 was down to 106 as more pedestrian bridges were built and the traffic rules strictly enforced.

Ebrahim said the project would be implemented soon after the completion of a study of the areas where the pedways would be built. They have been designed to link pedestrian crossings and Metro stations with nearby buildings.

The majority of the pedways in the congested parts of the city and commercial areas will be air-conditioned.

They will also provide great opportunities for retailers because they will have different kinds of shops, Ebrahim added.

"We are also improving the existing footpaths and building more pedestrian bridges because we consider walking one of the safest transport modes with great benefits."

The number of pedestrian crossings would increase from 17 in 2007 to 93 by 2010.

Safety tips: Take care

Motorists:

  • Always observe the speed limit.
  • Give way to pedestrians on zebra crossings.
  • Keep a distance of at least 1.5-metres from pedestrians.
  • Drivers can be fined Dh500 and given six black points for failing to give way to pedestrians on crossings.
  • Pedestrians:


  • Cross from designated crossings and use footbridges where available.
  • Wait for the green light at crossings
  • Do not cross where visibility is limited
  • Walk on the road facing the traffic if no footpath is available
  • You can be fined Dh200 for crossing the road in undesignated places.
  • - Source RTA


Dh400, four black points for safe distance violation



Dubai: Motorists violating the safe distance traffic rule will be fined Dh 400 and slapped with four black points on the spot, in an effort to curb the increase in fatalities, said a senior police official.

During a press conference to raise awareness about traffic rules and regulations, Lieutenant Colonal Ali Ganim, Director of Bur Dubai Police Station pointed out the importance of abiding by the safe distance rule as it has contributed to an increase in fatalities.

According to him, 185 accidents were reported in 2007 which resulted in 17 deaths while in 2009 the number of accidents dropped to 139 but witnessed a rise in fatalities reaching to 32 within the first 10 months only.

“Not maintaining enough distance between vehicles is considered one of the highest causes of minor and severe accidents in Dubai. We have especially launched the awareness campaign during the winter season due to the increase in such accidents,” he said.

Statistics revealed by Dubai Police Traffic Department indicated that over 43,200 accidents for not keeping safe distance between vehicles were recorded since the beginning of 2009.

The awareness campaign, which lasts for about 10 days kicked off on Sunday, will extensively educate the public through different mediums on the safe distance rule.

The rule or regulation to measure the appropriate distance is picking a landmark and start counting to three between the vehicle and that object.

The object could be another car, a traffic sign post, traffic signal, a tree, to name a few. If the motorist reaches that object before finishing the count then the driver didn’t keep enough distance.

“On a clear-sky day and during normal traffic flow the motorists should follow the three seconds rules or otherwise risk hitting a car. During a runny day the rule should be tripled to become a 9 seconds rule,” he said.

As an example if a motorist is driving 40 km per hour then there should be a distance of 35 meters which is equivalent to 7 cars. If a motorist is driving 120 km per hour then the distance should be 104 meters, he said.

Thumb rule: Giving oneself space

Three-second rule: The thumb of rule is to gauge the optimum distance by picking a random object and trying to maintain a three-second gap between the vehicle and that object while on the move. One may make a start by counting as one approaches a traffic sign or a tree.

2009 (first 10 months):

  • Accidents resulting from not adhering to safe distance rule: 139
  • Fatalities caused by drivers not keeping safe distance: 32

Dec 13, 2009

More rain predicted by UAE weathermen

Dubai: Cooling rain fell on Dubai and across UAE on Friday, although it measured only 0.2mm across the emirates, according to a duty forecaster, Dubai Meteorological Office.“Driving conditions are not really a problem at the moment, but people still have to be careful,” the forecaster said.

From 7pm on Friday to Sunday evening there is a chance of rain, and also of isolated showers and thunderstorms.

There are no reported delays at Dubai International Airport.

Temperatures will remain at a cool minimum of 19C and a maximum of 24C, with temperatures in Sharjah measuring slightly lower.

Weather bureau issues marine warning

The weather will be bad for the rest of Sunday with risk of thunderstorms across the emirates. Dubai: The weather bureau has issued a marine warning as seas will be rough and 7-foot high waves expected offshore as a thunderstorm in eastern Saudi Arabia is heading towards the UAE later today (Sunday).

The weather will be bad for the rest of Sunday with risk of thunderstorms across the emirates.

The marine warning will be effective till 6 am Monday as squalls of 25 knots (46 kmp/h) will hit the offshore areas and sailors are warned not to venture out during this time.

The bad weather has dumped 5 mm of rain in Sharjah and other parts of the emirates since Friday, but it is likely to clear up early tomorrow (Monday), according to the Dubai Met office.


The bad weather is because of the North-Westerly cold front hitting the warm air in this part of the world.

Spate of accidents as heavy rain lashes the city

Abu Dhabi: A spate of accidents, especially rollovers, was recorded in the capital as rain continues to lash the city.

The police have called on motorists for increased vigil as many of the accidents were caused due to hydroplaning.

In less than an hour, two rollover accidents were reported in Khaleej Al Arabi Street and Mohammad Bin Khalifa street, a police official told Gulf News.

“The drivers escaped with minor injuries in both the accidents”, said the official, who asked not to be named. Preliminary investigations suggest the accidents were caused due to skidding as the drivers failed to slow down despite the roads being slippery.

Ambulance and rescue team members had an unusually busy day, they said, due to increased number of emergency calls.

“Many motorists ignore the unstable weather and poor visibility and continue to drive as usual, which leads to accidents. In such weather there is a big possibility of losing control of the vehicle if one is not especially careful”, said a rescue official.
The city’s internal roads were all choked with long tailbacks as streets and parking lots were flooded.

Civil defence teams pumped out water from some areas in the city.

The Interior ministry renewed their call on residents to follow safety precautions whether at home or on the roads to avoid mishaps.

Brigadier General Mohammad Saleh Baddah, head of the Public relations at the ministry, stressed that safety of children must be a priority. “Watch over children, especially in areas where water gets collected.”

Giving pointers on electrical safety at homes, Brigadier General Baddah, said: “During rain, all exposed electrical wires must be removed for safety reasons. Make sure to cover from rain, electrical appliances such as water pumps. Replace water heaters older than five years.”

He urged motorists to keep speed to the minimum. “Yield to emergency vehicles and ambulances as it could help save lives”, he added.