x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Air-conditioning charge row escalates

Owners angry at the disconnection of their air conditioning at a building in Jumeirah Lakes Towers stepped up efforts to form a housing association.

DUBAI // Owners angry at the disconnection of their air conditioning at a building in Jumeirah Lakes Towers stepped up efforts to form a housing association last night. More than 100 apartments at Lake Point Tower had their air-conditioning switched off after owners failed to pay outstanding service charges to the developer, Distinguished Real Estate (DRE). Owners complained that the charges of Dh16 per square foot, or about Dh20,000 for a flat renting for Dh65,000, were too high.

Disputes over fees have grown so widespread in Dubai that authorities recently enacted a law transferring control of building maintenance from developers to owners, as long as they form an association. Lake Point Tower owners sent a letter with 20 signatures three weeks ago that asked the Dubai's property regulator, RERA, and DRE to call the meeting required to formalise their association. At a meeting last night, they collected 21 more signatures, which they will add to the letter and resend.

DRE had been splitting the cost of air conditioning from a bulk meter among each owner by square footage, regardless of individual use. This year, DRE installed individual meters and owners were told to register with Palm District Cooling, which asked for a no-objection certificate from DRE. The developer in turn required that outstanding fees be paid by owners. That left owners who owe money - as well as their tenants - sweltering in their homes. Some checked into hotels and others worked out how to switch the air back on.

Chirag Vyas, who owns five units in the building, said his tenants are threatening to move out. "They're telling me, 'I want my money back. Get it sorted,'" he said. chuang@thenational.ae