DLD Service Charges Explained

DLD Service Charges
Dubai Land Department service charges- All you need to know, explained.

Living in Dubai’s vibrant communities comes with perks, but also responsibilities. One such area often shrouded in confusion is service charges. These recurring fees pay for the upkeep of our shared spaces, impacting everything from clean pools to secure entrances. Yet, questions abound: What exactly are they used for? Are they fair? Are they the same as DLD(Dubai Land Department) fees? 

Understanding service charges empowers you, the resident, to make informed decisions and navigate your living experience seamlessly. In this blog, we will demystify the terminology, explore the breakdown of costs, and equip you with the knowledge to navigate the RERA Service Charge Index and understand your rights. After all, transparency is key to building stronger communities.

What are Service Charges?

Think of service charges as your monthly contribution to keeping your building and community in tip-top shape. They cover the costs of things you enjoy every day, like:

  • Security: Having guards patrol the premises for your safety.
  • Cleanliness: Sparkling lobbies, hallways, and common areas.
  • Waste management: Efficient garbage collection and disposal.
  • Common area maintenance: Upkeep of elevators, pools, gyms, and gardens.
  • Utilities: Shared lighting, water, and sometimes even air conditioning in common areas.

Usually, it’s a property management company or community association responsible for your building or complex. They collect the charges, pay the service providers, and keep track of everything.

How much is the Service Charge?

Service charges are calculated based on the RERA Service and Maintenance Index (SMI), which sets a baseline rate based on various factors like your property type, location, and amenities. However, additional factors like your apartment size and specific building costs can also influence the final amount.

Calculating service charges can seem complex, but here’s a simplified example:

Imagine your building has an SMI of AED 5 per square foot. If your apartment is 1000 square feet, your base service charge would be AED 5,000 per year. However, your building might have a pool, increasing the final charge to AED 5,500. Remember, this is just an example, and your actual charges may vary.

By knowing what they cover and how they’re calculated, you can make informed decisions about your living situation and hold your property management accountable for transparency and efficient use of funds. So, next time you see “service charges” on your bill, remember: it’s an investment in your daily comfort and the long-term well-being of your building community.

DLD Fees vs. Service Charges: Differences

AspectDLD FeesService Charges
DefinitionOne-time government fees levied by the Dubai Land Department (DLD) upon specific real estate transactions.Recurring fees paid by residents or tenants to cover the cost of maintaining and operating their building and community.
ComponentsTransfer Fee: 4% of the property sale value, shared equally between buyer and seller. 
Registration Fee: Varies (AED 2,000 for properties < AED 500,000; AED 4,000 for properties > AED 500,000) + 5% VAT.
Mortgage Registration Fee: Up to 0.25% of the loan amount + AED 290.
Admin Fees: Vary depending on property type.
Security: Staffing, equipment, and access control systems.
Cleaning: Common areas, exteriors, and individual units (varies).
Waste Management: Garbage and recyclables collection and disposal.
Common Area Maintenance: Lifts, pools, gyms, gardens, etc. 
Utilities: Lighting, water, and sometimes air conditioning in common areas.
Sinking Fund: Reserve for future major repairs or replacements.
PurposeGenerate revenue for the government and regulate real estate transactions.Ensure the smooth operation, hygiene, and long-term upkeep of the building and its amenities.
ImpactNo direct impact on service charges. Purely transactional and do not contribute to ongoing property maintenance or services.No impact on DLD fees. Managed by property management companies or community associations and have no connection to DLD fees.

RERA Service Charge Index (SCI) Explained

The RERA Service Charge Index (SCI) is a valuable tool for understanding and analysing these fees. The SCI, established by the Dubai Land Department (DLD), serves as a benchmark and reference point for service charges across various property types in Dubai.

Think of it as a price guide: It categorises properties into residential, commercial, and industrial groups and provides average service charges per square foot based on location and amenities. This transparency promotes fairness and prevents inflated charges, empowering you to compare and assess your service charges against established benchmarks.

Accessing the RERA SCI is easy: Head over to the official DLD website. You can search for service charges by entering your property details or browsing predefined categories.

Let’s take a quick peek at the categories:

  • Residential: This covers apartments, villas, and townhouses, further segmented based on location and features (e.g., luxury apartments with pools vs. standard studios).
  • Commercial: This includes offices, retail spaces, and warehouses, also categorised by location and type (e.g., prime business districts vs. community shops).
  • Industrial: This encompasses factories, warehouses, and workshops, classified according to location and specific industrial needs.

The SCI allows you to access average service charges per square foot for different areas in Dubai. Downloadable tables or charts present this information clearly, helping you compare your building’s charges against the local average. Keep in mind that these are averages, and your actual charges may vary slightly due to specific building features or services.

By utilising the RERA SCI, you gain valuable insights:

  • Benchmark your service charges: Compare your building’s fees to the local average and identify any significant discrepancies.
  • Ask informed questions: Armed with benchmark data, you can confidently engage with your property management about specific cost components.
  • Make informed decisions: When choosing a new apartment or comparing rental options, use the SCI to factor in potential service charges.

Transparency and Accountability: Your Right to Know in Service Charges

Navigating service charges doesn’t just involve understanding their breakdown; it’s also crucial to ensure transparency and accountability in their management. This empowers residents to make informed decisions and hold responsible parties accountable for how their hard-earned money is used.

Resident Rights and Knowledge Access

As a resident, you have the right to:

  • Access detailed invoices: Request and receive clear and comprehensive invoices specifying individual cost components of your service charge.
  • Scrutinise service charge breakdowns: Understand how each expense contributes to the overall charge and question any unclear or unusual items.
  • View financial reports: Ask for financial reports outlining the overall income and expenditure of service charges for your building or community.

These rights are reinforced by the RERA Service Charge Index (SCI) and the Mollak System, legal frameworks in Dubai. The SCI sets benchmarks for service charges based on property type, location, and amenities, while Mollak facilitates transparent online management of service charges, including resident access to financial reports.

Raising Concerns and Seeking Solutions

If you suspect discrepancies or have concerns about service quality:

  • Communicate with your property management: Express your concerns clearly and request specific explanations for disputed charges or unsatisfactory service standards.
  • Gather evidence: Keep copies of relevant invoices, service charge breakdowns, and communication regarding your concerns.
  • Engage with other residents: Discuss your concerns with your neighbours and explore collectively raising issues as a united front.
  • Seek external support: Utilise resources like RERA or your local Community Management Group (CMG) for guidance and mediation if required.

Navigating service charges in Dubai requires knowledge and empowerment. This blog unpacked the complexities, explained RERA guidelines, and introduced the RERA Service Charge Index. Remember, transparency is key. Request detailed invoices, understand cost breakdowns, and leverage the SCI to benchmark your charges. Looking for a hassle free living experience in your society? NoBrokerHood can help! Our expert team will assist you in ensuring clarity and fairness regarding service charges, empowering you to focus on enjoying your community. Don’t wait, visit our website today!


1. What are DLD fees in Dubai?

DLD fees are one-time government charges levied on specific real estate transactions, like buying or registering a property. Think of them as taxes for property transactions, not related to ongoing maintenance. They include components like transfer fees, registration fees, and mortgage fees.

2. How to calculate service charges for property in Dubai?

Calculating service charges involves the RERA Service Charge Index (SCI) as a baseline, but your specific building may have additional factors. Generally, multiply the SCI rate per square foot by your apartment size. However, it’s best to refer to your building’s service charge breakdown for the most accurate figure.

3. How are service fees calculated?

Service fees, also called service charges, are calculated based on multiple factors. The RERA SCI sets a baseline rate considering property type, location, and amenities. Additionally, your building size, specific services offered, and individual apartment size can influence the final charge.

4. What does the service charge include in Dubai?

Service charges cover the costs of maintaining your building and community. This includes expenses like security, cleaning, waste management, common area maintenance (lifts, pools, gardens), utilities, and sometimes contributions to a sinking fund for future repairs.

5. Is service charge legal in Dubai?

Yes, service charges are legal in Dubai and mandated by Law No. 6 of 2019 concerning Common Ownership. They ensure proper maintenance and operation of buildings and communities, contributing to a comfortable living environment. The Dubai Land Department (DLD) regulates service charges through the RERA Service Charge Index and Mollak system, promoting transparency and fairness.

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