DUBAI // Swimming pools have been drained and gymnasiums closed in a plush residential development on the Palm Jumeirah, in what tenants say is part of a dispute over unpaid service fees.
A resident said the developer Nakheel put up notices in the six Marina Residence towers a month ago telling landlords that air conditioning and lift services would be turned off in communal areas if outstanding service fees were not settled.
Then on Tuesday, residents were surprised to discover the communal swimming pools were drained and shut, along with the gyms.
A spokeswoman for Nakheel denied the swimming pools were shut due to unpaid service fees.
"The swimming pools are closed for maintenance purposes. The gym is not closed," she said. "The AC and lifts are not closed off.
"Long-term [annual lease] tenants at the Marina Residence can check with Nakheel as to whether or not landlords have paid their service charges."
The British tenant Sarah Hardaker, who rents a three-bedroom flat in Marina Residence 6, said: "I think this is grossly unfair.
"There are hardly any landlords or owners who stay in these buildings because most live abroad, so they wouldn't have seen the notices anyway."
Mrs Hardaker, who lives with her husband and their seven-month-old baby, said most people in the towers were tenants who had nothing to do with paying service fees.
"About two or three weeks ago Nakheel put notices up in the communal areas demanding that landlords paid their outstanding fees," she said.
"I've contacted Nakheel on several occasions but haven't heard anything back. There are signs up near the pools that say they are closed but not why. I spoke to security and they said it was due to the unpaid service fees."
Mrs Hardaker paid Dh160,000 in advance for rent, and said she and many other tenants were angry at the way Nakheel had handled the situation.
"I moved here because it is a very nice place to live and for the money we pay we expect a quality environment, but Nakheel's actions go against that," she said.
"We as tenants don't know if our landlords have paid their service fees and Nakheel should speak to them individually instead of imposing collective punishment on the tenants."
This year, people living in the Shoreline apartments on the Palm were shut out of the gyms and denied beach access in a row over unpaid service fees. The dispute is continuing.
People in Marina Residence fear a similar situation could develop.
A tenant in Marina Residence 5, who did not wish to be identified, said swimming pools in her apartment block had also been drained.
"There doesn't seem to be any explanation as to why this has been done," the British national said. "It was only after I had asked the staff that they told me why the pool was closed, but to be honest it wasn't properly maintained.
"You couldn't use the pool anyway because they kept the water at such a cold temperature."
But she said the gym in her block was still open.
"I'm paying Dh145,000 for a two-bed apartment and, frankly, I don't know where the money is going.
"The pool has no water and yet there are still lifeguards on duty and security leave the doors open into the building with the AC running, which is a complete waste."