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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 15 November 2018

Al Hamra Village 'escalates legal action against residents' 

Homeowners are still awaiting a court decision on a three-year dispute over upgrade fees, while they say the developer is suing individuals for non-payment

The Al Hamra development in Ras Al Khaimah is embroiled in a dispute with residents over fees worth Dh137 million. Paulo Vecina / The National 
The Al Hamra development in Ras Al Khaimah is embroiled in a dispute with residents over fees worth Dh137 million. Paulo Vecina / The National 

Homeowners at Al Hamra Village in Ras al Khaimah are still waiting for the court final resolution to a three-year, Dh137 million dispute with the developer after it has been adjourned several times since July.

In 2015, the gated community switched from a private amenities supplier to the Federal Electricity and Water Authority, Fewa. The dispute relates to the legality of charges issued to property owners by Al Hamra Real Estate Development.

The developer claims an upgrade fee of as much as Dh110,000 applies to each property, while home owners say they paid a connection fee when they bought their properties.

The National reported in July that homeowners were expecting a court order in the next week after the dispute had raged for three years, however, they say the case has instead been repeatedly adjourned.

Homeowners say that in the mean time, the developer has continued to open court cases against them for not paying the disputed upgrade fees, and the number of open cases has increased from 13 in July to 52.

“Against all business ethics and professionalism, Al Hamra continue to open court cases against owners who have disputed this charge. In a normal professional environment, Al Hamra would wait for the court decision and abide by it,” said an owner who is being sued by Ahred and wished to remain nameless.

The owner said that the opening of cases has caused a lot of unnecessary expenses for people, such as lawyer fees, translation, court time and travel expenses.

“One lady was forced to fly in from Thailand to fight her case,” the owner said.

“Owners have purchased in Al Hamra village to have a holiday home and ultimately a retirement home. They did not expect to be sued by Al Hamra.”

Residents said that Ahred was still responding to people who refused to pay the fees by cutting off their water supply and not issuing the no-objection letters needed to, among other things, sell their property, paint exterior walls and carry out modifications.

“The developer continues to charge a late payment penalty and harass owners by not connecting the water supply and no repairs or modification works can be carried out.”

They said that the court case has been adjourned several times since July and they have not been given a solid reason as to why.

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“We are not 100 per cent sure why the court decided to adjourn, but we have been told that the appointed experts could not complete the task given to them by the judge, nor could they provide copies of the required proof and documentation,” said another homeowner, who also wished to remain anonymous.

The second owner also claimed that the developer had not been truthful with them about the circumstances of the supplier switch.

“Al Hamra Real Estate Development has always claimed that they were forced by FEWA to switchover from the private supplier to FEWA, but we recently discovered that this is untrue. We now have proof that Al Hamra requested FEWA for a connection,” said the owner.

Ahred did not respond to a request for comment, however they previously said that the matter is “now sub judice and as such it would be inappropriate for Al Hamra to comment about an ongoing court case”.

“However, we would like to state that this course of action was only taken as a last resort, and after considerable discussion with the residents,” they said.