Real estate transactions

In the context of real estate transactions in Dubai, we often require clients who are living overseas to give a POA to a locally based trusted friend or relative, or to our law firm, to enable documentation to be signed in Dubai in their absence. That POA can be signed in Dubai, or overseas.

If the POA is to be signed in Dubai, it will usually be dealt with at the offices of the Dubai Court Notary Public (the main one is in Al Quoz next to the traffic department). The document must be in Arabic, but it can also be in English, provided the English text is stamped by an accredited translator. Proof of identity will be required in the form of your original passport or Emirates ID card. You sign in front of the Notary, pay the fee and the notarial stamp will be affixed to the document.

Simple enough so far – but it gets more complicated

If you sign a POA outside the UAE, for use in the UAE (e.g. you sign the POA in the UK for a property transaction in Dubai), then the POA needs to be legalized. That is essentially a process involving a series of stampings that have to be done in a certain order, with fees payable at every stage. Like an administrative Ceilidh with stamps instead of kilts. Essentially, a POA executed in the UK has to be signed in the presence of a Notary Public, then stamped by that Notary, then stamped by the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (currently located in Milton Keynes) and finally stamped by the UAE embassy (in London). Once it’s been sent to us in Dubai it then needs to be stamped by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, translated into Arabic and stamped by the UAE Ministry of Justice. And if you can still read the POA through the stamps, you’re ready to go.

Now that we’ve addressed the administrative issues, we can turn to the practical issues

Most of these stem not from legislation, but from the policies and procedures of the Dubai Land Department (DLD), the Notary Department and developers (which can of course change from one day to the next).

POA’s that are over 2 years old (from the date of notarisation) will not be accepted by the DLD. This is regardless of whether they are expressed to be valid for a longer period of time. Most developers have now adopted the same approach.

  •  A POA from a seller must, if signed in Dubai, specifically refer to the property to be sold. A general POA from a seller will not currently be accepted by the Dubai Notary. However, the DLD will accept a general POA from a seller, provided it’s properly legalized. So if you are a seller and you want to grant a general POA to cover multiple properties, not all of which are currently capable of being identified, the advice would be to sign and legalise the POA outside the UAE.
  •  A POA from a seller must, if signed in Dubai, be accompanied by the original title deeds (or copy deeds if the property is mortgaged and the originals are held by the bank).
  • A POA can be given by one owner to another where they are joint owners of a property. This is most common in the case of married couples where one spouse may give a POA to the other to enable the transaction to be dealt with by just one of them, rather than both of them having to attend to every stage of the procedure.
  • A joint POA can be signed where there is more than one registered owner of a property, or more than one buyer. These do however need to be carefully drafted to ensure that they are acceptable to the Notary, the developer and the DLD
  • A POA can legally be granted to someone who has an interest in the transaction. So, for example, I can grant a POA to you authorizing you to transfer my property into your name. But in practice, given the possibility of abuse, the DLD is understandably uncomfortable with this. In the circumstances we would always advise that the POA be granted to a 3rd party, such as our firm, so that the Grantor under the POA is never the same individual as the buyer.
  • In conclusion, a transfer of property in Dubai requires a buyer and seller to be present at different stages – usually at least on the application for the developer NOC and at the transfer at the DLD Trustee Registration Office. A POA is a useful legal instrument to enable a transaction to be conducted through a trusted 3rd party in circumstances where a seller or buyer either cannot or does not wish to attend in person. But the procedure is not always straightforward, and therefore care must be taken when putting these arrangements in place.