25 October, 2007

Orphaned Cars--Why?

Have you ever noticed all the cars sitting around covered in dust? I notice them all the time. When I see one on one of my common routes I make note of how long it sits.

I have witnessed a car not moving for over two years in Bur Dubai and Al Barsha. As an American I am use to having community laws that would impound such a vehicle. So I started trying to find out why these vehicles are just left.

I had a few hypothesis to start with:
1. The owner was a holiday resident and did not have proper parking.
2. The owner was in jail.
3. The owner owed a loan and skipped town.

But in these cases more researched uncovered more facts. First if the person were a holiday visitor, it would seem that they would pay someone to wash it once a week. I found in my building that the holiday visitors have their cars done once a month at least. Now if they did not have parking then scenario 1 is plausible. BUT most people who can afford to live in Dubai 1/2 the year or a few months a year, should be able to acquire parking.

Numbers 2 and 3 are actually situations where the state will repossess or impound the car. I found that out when I went to the auto auction last year.

So what else could be contributing to these orphaned cars? The answer: a bad registration scheme.

My friend bought a car from someone who was leaving Dubai. They gave my friend the registration card, a copy of their passport and visa, and a letter stating that a transaction had been made.

My friend did not take the time to research the law, as the seller confirmed that they had called the registration office and were following the correct procedure.

The seller leaves the country and cancels their visa.

My friend goes to register the car. She finds out that it is impossible without the owner. She explains the owner is out of the country, and is not coming back. And that the owner no longer has a visa. The registration office says that if the seller has canceled their visa, then they cannot even return to Dubai and transfer the car over.

Basically, without the seller present or a certified bill of sale from a used car dealership, the transaction can not be made legally. Ironically enough, if there are any tickets, the seller still gets fined. The fines accrue even after they cancel their visa.

I was standing next to my friend during this encounter and she looked at me and said, "I am just going to leave this car in the desert and rent something."

I thought that was a bad move. I took another angle. I asked, "Who in Dubai can take care of this situation? " The registrar said, "There is a man in the head office in Deira if you find him he can make an exception." One guy. THE HEAD of DUBAI registrars with access to the immigration records.

My friend still wanted to dump the car because she refused to drive in Deira. She said Deira is too hard to drive in and she would end up wrecking her car before she could register it.

The point of this story is that Dubai seems to be to often managed through rumors and conjecture. Get the information for yourself and in-person. Ask a few people the same question(s). If not you might find yourself in Deira trying to find some government building, dodging the ubiquitous Nissan Sunny, and fighting to eventually cross a crowded bridge in rush hour traffic.



small m said...

You appear to be suggesting that it is illogical for the authorities to require the seller to be present to confirm a sale.

Perhaps, for the concerned authority, a "letter stating that a transaction had been made" with an unverifiable signature, plus the registration card and a copy of a passport showing a visa that has been cancelled after the copy was made, is not quite sufficient. From a legal point of view, the whole thing looks a bit questionable. Having just a letter and the owner's passport copy (showing a wrong visa status) does not provide incontrovertible proof that the car and its registration card were not obtained by questionable means.

It is incumbent upon the government to make certain that things are above board before transferring a vehicle's registration to someone else. Hence these very reasonable rules.

The other thing I find intriguing is your friend's refusal to drive in Deira. Granted the streets there are different; however, driving habits in Dubai, as peculiar as they are may not be quite so easily segrated into specific zones. A person who drives in Deira may very well be expected to drive across to Bur Dubai or Jumeirah or Al Quoz at any time. I would suggest that a person who lacks the confidence to drive anywhere in Dubai should forget about buying a car and take taxis instead.

Cheeky Minx said...


EnglishTeacher365 said...

So it doesn't make sense to even try and get the damned thing registered - so don't! Just drive it, uninsured, until you've had enough. There must be thousands of other drivers who do the same.

And what are the chances of getting stopped by the police ... and questioned?

Keefieboy said...

Small M: other countries manage to handle these things by mail! I think it is illogical and unnecessary for both parties to be present.

I had a bizarre experience when I was leaving Dubai back in July. I had a buyer for my car, and they had paid me a deposit, but for various reasons we were not both able to attend the traffic department at the same time until the Thursday before I was due to leave (some people have jobs, you know). We got there with an hour to spare before they closed and then were hit with a bombshell: when you transfer the ownership of a car now, you have to have a fresh 'MOT' test. This despite the fact that my car had passed its annual test only five weeks before! Is this a new rule? Yes. I went to see the Manager, who was very nice and said he would make an exception: the buyer and I could sign the documents, the manager would hold onto them until after the weekend when there was time to get the car tested again.

This was fine by me; I would get my money and leave the buyer to foot the bill for a new test, hope that it passed, and then hope that the manager would keep his word. Well, I had an email from the buyer after I'd left saying all was fine, but as far as I'm concerned it is a massively illogical and inconvenient system. And the 'new test' thing is purely a revenue-raiser.

Dubai Blogger said...

I think acertified document should be made available to allow people to do a transfer asynchronously . And ithink if a car is found abandonded and the owner has a canceled visa that car should auctioned .

Rami said...

A friend of mine went through the exact same thing a few years ago, in Sharjah this time.

He bought a car from someone, who promptly left the country. After a lot of running around, he found out that there was no legal way to transfer ownership of the car.

As far as I remember, that car sat, unused, for about two years before someone 'took care of it'.

small m said...

Caveat emptor. You're not buying a toothbrush.

yaris driver said...

Yes, so sometimes procedures are annoying here. But the Department of Motor Vehicles is the last place where any American wants to spend any amount of time, in any state - they are infamous for their absurd bureaucracy. I think car registration is universally difficult, which is why I rent on a monthly basis (plus, I always have a new car, I don't deal with maintenance, etc.).

I have to agree with small m's note about your friend's refusal to drive in Deira. This is just bizarre and a bit paranoid. If someone is not willing to take that simple extra step to register their car, then they shouldn't complain about it not being registered!

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