Compulsory 3% Municipality fee to be charged in Abu Dhabi

In February 2016, the Abu Dhabi government announced that tenants would be charged a municipality fee, similar to Dubai’s housing fee. The fee is equal to 3% of the annual rent, and will be billed, to the tenant, monthly by the Abu Dhabi Distribution Company (ADDC). However, this was not implemented until January 2017. Now, tenants have been receiving bills from the ADDC with back-dated charges for the installments from February 2016, which had not previously been billed. This means that tenants may be charged for the entire previous year’s installment’s at once. Many tenants would not have welcomed this news, and this unexpected additional expense. Going forward, tenants will be charged on a monthly basis in 12 installments spread across the year, allowing them to budget for the expense.

5% rental cap for Abu Dhabi residents

In spite of the falling rental prices in Abu Dhabi over the past few months, a new cap on rental increases to 5% been introduced, raising questions as to the need for this move in the current market. The idea of a rental cap was first introduced to the market in Abu Dhabi in 2006 due to the high demand and low supply of properties. This eventually was phased out as the property market stabilised. With new housing developments becoming available in the next few months, there may well be an oversupply of properties, compared to reduced demand in the region.

Unified rental contract for Dubai

Dubai is finally getting a unified rental contract or standard lease. According to a Gulf News article on February 20th, it has been announced that, as of March 2017, all new lease agreements must be concluded using the standard template downloaded from the Ejari website. The goal is to regulate all lease transactions and ensure that they are based on a legal framework. Penalties may apply if the guidelines are not followed. And all parties need to agree to the lease terms before the lease is signed.

EJARI (meaning ‘my rent’ in Arabic) is the new initiative of RERA (Dubai Land Department) to regulate and facilitate the Rental Market of Dubai, making it one of the best regulated property markets in the world.

This move has been welcomed by the relocation industry, as it means that both parties will be protected by the lease, which is seen as fair, and the process will now be governed by the Rental Relations Regulatory Department.

For example, the lease makes it clear that the landlord is responsible for maintenance repair, and repair of any damage or defect that may affect the wellbeing of the tenant within the premise, unless otherwise agreed. This provides clarity for tenants and landlords and may help to mitigate any disputes.

Police Clearance Certificates Required for UAE Visas

It’s very likely that people moving to Dubai will soon have to submit a police clearance certificate in order to be granted their UAE visa. Conducting background security checks on foreign workers was approved in principal last October, and Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, Minister of Human Resources, told the UAE’s Federal National Council that the decision will be passed soon. Until now, foreign nationals applying for visas to the UAE have not needed to submit their criminal history. There are around 5 to 7 million expats living and working in the UAE today.

It is not yet clear how the new regulation will be put into practice but it’s likely that all new visa applicants seeking to move to the UAE will need to provide a police clearance. A police clearance certificate may also be required for visa renewals going forward.

UAE – New Emiratisation and labour market testing program creates more recruitment rules for employers

In order to increase the amount of local workers in the private sector, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) has launched a National Program for Emiratisation called 'Tawteen'. The program implements a new labour market testing platform called 'Tawteen Gate' , which requires selected companies to create job advertisements accessible to UAE nationals seeking employment before those employers can hire foreign nationals.

Qatar – New Driving License Announcement

All Expatriates, regardless of their country of origin, will now need to undergo a driving test in order to get a local drivers license. This announcement is effective immediately. Until now, drivers from at least 30 countries were exempt from the driving test and could simply exchange their driver’s licenses over to a Qatari license once their Residence Permits were issued.

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