x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Compliance rules will clean up cities

Telling owners of derelict buildings to clean them up or face demolition is an effective way to get rid of eyesores and health hazards.

Unoccupied buildings can create social and health challenges for the country. And so authorities across the UAE have been steadily clearing the emirates of old or dilapidated housing stock by conducting regular inspections and issuing warnings, including eviction and demolition notices.

Last year, Abu Dhabi Municipality demolished 78 unoccupied dwellings across the emirate, including 10 commercial buildings, eight government buildings and 33 residential villas. Sharjah Municipality dispensed with 118 buildings in 2012.

This year, Dubai Municipality, in collaboration with the emirate's police, has already got rid of 72 buildings and the clampdown is continuing. As The National reported on Tuesday, owners of 18 abandoned buildings in Dubai have been given a final warning to improve the dilapidated state of these dwellings or face paying for the cost of demolition works, plus an additional 20 per cent administration charge.

Owners will also be required to pay an additional 20 per cent for administration charges if they have not communicated with authorities about renovating their buildings within seven days.

While these campaigns may seem overly punitive, they are underwritten by strong and appropriate thinking.

Unoccupied dwellings can fall prey to criminals using them to carry out illegitimate activities or to store illicit materials. Illegal residents could also take them as residences.

Such buildings could also pose a public health hazard. When unoccupied, buildings usually accumulate dust and often attract insects and rodents. All these factors could present serious health and safety issues for local residents.

The Dubai Municipality's current warning is loud and clear - use your building or lose it - and will undoubtedly push many owners to comply.

It will also help to preserve the look of the country's streets by encouraging owners to repair and restore tired or derelict buildings.