RICS service charge code

Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) aims to introduce transparency.

In a bid to regulate service charges in the UAE, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has announced the launch of a regional, voluntary service charge code.

The code will enable the sharing of costs of common services between more than one occupier and will provide the region with a clear set of recommendations and guidelines.

The first developer to align itself with the code is Abu Dhabi-based Aldar. "RICS is a regulating UK body and in order to meet professional standards, Aldar is complying with this particular code.

"One of the key points for RICS is protecting the general public and if the general public can see that Aldar is taking the issue seriously, they should feel confident that it is performing its responsibilities towards service charges, in the right way," said Melanie Barwick, head of property, asset and facilities management, Aldar.

But it is rumoured that Abu Dhabi will be the next Emirate to implement the Strata Law. If confirmed, Barwick said: "It may well be that we can adapt the code to take the law into account, but if the law doesn't converge with the code, then obviously the law will take precedent," she added.

Originally written for the UK property market, RICS said that small adaptations have been made to ensure the code is inline with the UAE's regional requirements. The code will deal with five key areas: management, communications, transparency, service charge standards and provision and administration.

Aldar signed a MoU with RICS in June 2006 to ensure the company's practices were inline with international standards, across its business units.

Barwick urged other developers in the region to get involved with the code.

"The code is being driven by guys in the UK and I'm hoping that other parties in the region will get involved," she said.

A full version of the code is available from the RICS website www.ricsbooks.com.

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