DUBAI // Tenants who have paid as much as Dh20,000 for hotel accommodation after losing their homes in the Tamweel Tower blaze have been told they might not be able to claim the money back.
The fire that gutted the 34-storey building in Jumeirah Lakes Towers on November 17 left 160 families homeless.
Residents were told to pay upfront for hotel apartments and were reportedly assured the money would be reimbursed after a successful insurance claim.
The prices ranged from about Dh9,000 for a studio to Dh20,000 for a three-bedroom at hotel apartments across the city.
But in an email today from the building’s owners’ association, tenants were told they might not be entitled to reimbursement.
“The temporary accommodation of 30 days as per the insurance policy is for owners staying in the apartment,” said the association.
“Tamweel is fighting on our behalf to include the tenants as well.”
Marwan Mayassi, a former resident in Tamweel Tower, said he was given assurances he would be able to claim the amount back.
“They told us that we would be able to claim the money back and said their earlier emails would be a guarantee,” Mr Mayassi said.
“They didn’t mention that it wouldn’t apply to tenants.”
Another resident, Tanvir, said the amount for temporary lodgings, coupled with the money he could lose from rent that has yet to be refunded, was a crippling blow.
“I have used up my credit card paying for this accommodation,” Tanvir said. “It was all under the assurances that they would reimburse us.”
But Surendra Nayar, the newly elected chairman of the owners’ association board, said that nothing had been decided.
“It might be something in the insurance policy but everything is up for negotiation,” Mr Nayar said.
“We haven’t even met the insurer directly.”
Although the cause has yet to be determined, the fire is believed to have started on or near the roof of the building in the early hours of the morning, before moving down most of the tower’s east side.
Hundreds of people were immediately evacuated as firefighters battled for hours to bring the blaze under control.
Videos of the fire showed the tower’s aluminium panels burning off and the debris falling to the ground, similar to what happened in fires at residential towers in Dubai’s Tecom area last month and in Sharjah in April.
As a result, stricter testing of cladding used in high-rise buildings was promised as part of a new-look Fire and Life Safety Code used by Civil Defence departments throughout the Emirates.
Nobody was hurt in the Tamweel fire and members of the JLT community were quick to rally around to offer donations of clothes and even rooms in their apartments to those left homeless.