x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

20 people found living in one-bed Dubai apartment in overcrowding checks

One landlord fined Dh100,000 as inspectors carry out random checks at Dubai properties to clamp down on overcrowding.

DUBAI // A landlord in International City has been fined Dh100,000 after 20 people were found living in a one-bedroom apartment.

Inspectors discovered two groups of 10 men living in the flat in shifts.

"One group of 10 would stay for a period and then another group would arrive when their shift finished," said Arif Al Dehail, chief executive of Trakhees, the management arm of the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation.

Trakhees carries out regular random inspections across Nakheel communities. Mr Al Dehail said International City was a particular area of concern.

"We had most of the overcrowding cases in International City," he said. "When we imposed the Dh100,000 fine the owner accepted it and paid. It's clear that the rules say overcrowding is not allowed."

Trakhees's maximum limit for occupants is three people to a studio, five in a one-bed and seven in a two-bed apartment.

In the last 12 months, Trakhees has issued 500 fines and sent 300 warning letters, the majority in International City, although there were cases in Discovery Gardens.

For some residents, overcrowding is an ongoing problem.

"Overcrowding happens in waves," said Javed Tahir, from Pakistan, who lives in International City's England cluster. "Sometimes when the inspections are taking place you see less people, but it doesn't last very long and the overcrowding comes back."

An Indian tenant said: "I've complained a few times about overcrowding and then things have improved for a period but it doesn't take long for them to go back to the old situation. The overcrowded apartments are very noisy and disturb other residents."

Once a warning letter or fine is issued, the apartment's owner has 10 days to pay or rectify the problem before inspectors return.

Mr Al Dehail said the situation had been improving over the last five years, with better awareness of the regulations among owners and tenants after poster campaigns.

"A lot of the time people aren't aware they are breaking the rules," he said.

One example of this was the ban on satellite dishes on balconies.

"Having these things on balconies has a negative impact on the building and the area," Mr Al Dehail said. "However, we understand that in many cases people have no alternative but to put them on balconies because there is no other way of doing it."

He said Trakhees was working with developers to install dishes on the roofs of buildings.

"This is as much about having a cultural change as anything else," he said. "We are looking at having satellite dishes for free-to-air channels to be installed and are looking at ways for that to be done."

No one has been fined for the misuse of balconies, which includes drying washing and storage.

Thousands of brochures, stickers and signs have been distributed in the Nakheel communities informing residents of the regulations.

nhanif@thenational.ae