On December 10 2007, Dubai issued the Joint Properties
Ownership Law (Number 27 of 2007, the Dubai Strata Law)
contemplating the rights and obligations pertaining to
jointly-owned properties (also known as condominiums or strata
property). The law applies to jointly-owned property such as
apartments, townhouses and master planned villa
Article 5 confirms that joint properties may be owned by
foreign nationals. Foreign nationals may own joint properties
on a freehold or 99-year leasehold basis in designated areas in
The site plan, the main regulations and the articles of
association shall constitute the deed of title of the joint
property project, and the owners of units in the joint property
project shall comply with such regulations and articles
Unless otherwise specified in the site plan, the joint parts
(or common areas) include car parking bays, swimming pools,
gardens, lifts, main water pipes, roads, green areas, and the
like (Article 7). Such a definition provides a developer with
the flexibility to designate a garden or a road or other area
to not be part of the common areas, but instead to be retained
by the sub-developer or otherwise not subject to the indirect
ownership or control of the unit owners through the
Association. Although this scheme provides much flexibility for
planning and sales for the sub-developer, it is questionable
whether it is protective of the interests of the unit owners in
general, who would benefit from having any and all non-unit
space designated as common areas.
Unit owners own an undivided share of the joint parts (or
common areas) proportional to the ratio of the areas of their
unit to that of the joint property project (Article 9).
The Association shall come into existence upon registration
of the first sale of a unit within the Joint Property project.
A unit owner shall become a member of the Association when he
or she is registered at the Land Department as owner, and
expires when such registration expires (Article 17).
The Association is to be a non-profit organisation and it
shall be a legal entity, with rights to litigate and own assets
(Article 18). A unit owner shall have the right to attend and
vote at meetings of the general assembly of the Association
pursuant to the provisions of the articles of association. A
unit owner shall have such number of votes that are
proportional to his or her shares in the joint property project
The Association shall be responsible for administering,
managing, maintaining and repairing the joint parts, and shall
obtain a business licence from the Land Department. In
addition, the Association may delegate some of its powers to a
person or company upon fixed fees and agreed terms (Article
21). This means that the Association can delegate some of its
responsibilities to a management company in return for
Each unit owner shall pay its proportionate share of
Association fees to cover expenses for administration,
management, maintenance and repair of the joint parts (Article
The Association shall have a claim against every unit for
unpaid Association fees, which may be enforced through a court
order three months after the unit owner is notified of such
unpaid amounts through the Notary Public (Article 25).
Finally, the Association may in its name file lawsuits and
take actions against third parties (including unit owners
and/or occupants) with respect to their defaults under the
Dubai Strata Law or the articles of association.
The sub-developer shall be responsible for 10 years from the
date of the completion certificate for repairing any structural
defects in the joint property project. This warranty is a
broadening of the existing 10-year warranty under the UAE Civil
Transactions Code (Law Number 5 of 1985, as amended) that holds
architects and contractors responsible for major structural
defects in such projects.
In addition, the sub-developer shall be responsible for one
year from the date of the completion certificate for repairing
or replacing any and all mechanical works, electrical works,
civil works and the like (Article 26).
The Association is obligated to obtain insurance for the
joint property project in an amount to sufficiently cover the
repair or reconstruction of such property in the event of
damage or destruction; other liability for damages to the joint
property project; and harm and/or physical injuries to unit
owners and/or occupants (Article 28 and 29).
The Dubai Strata Law is a major step in the maturity of the
real estate market in Dubai. Its issuance will add further
credibility and confidence to the market by providing a legal
framework with respect to the rights and obligations relating
to jointly-owned properties.
By Shahram Safai