Radical shake up in property laws for Abu Dhabi being drawn up

New laws to improve the regulation of the property market in Abu Dhabi are being drawn up and could be introduced next year.

The new rules, similar to the real estate laws recently introduced in Dubai, are aimed at improving regulation and giving property investors greater confidence when investing in the region.

Dubai-based law firm Al Tamimi has been in talks with the Department for Municipal Affairs in Abu Dhabi, which handles real estate legislation for the emirate, over proposals to introduce strata, broker, and escrow laws that would represent a radical shake up.

'This would give investors comfort to know they are investing in a property with a real title deed and that the system of ownership is recognised in line with best international practices,' said Walter Robinson, an associate lawyer at Al Tamimi's Abu Dhabi office.

Central to the proposed introduction of the laws would be a change in the freehold ownership of land. In 2002, Dubai introduced freehold ownership of property in selected areas, sparking its six-year real estate boom.

Robinson said the introduction of freehold ownership rights was a necessary and fundamental change to property laws in Abu Dhabi.

Strata laws, which regulate the ownership of units within a building, and broker laws, which regulate the practices of estate agents and commercial leasing agents, are being drawn up.

An escrow law is regarded as necessary to protect investors and ensures developers actually deliver projects. All the new legislation being considered by Abu Dhabi would cover commercial and residential property.