Crowded houses face fines of Dh100,000
ABU DHABI // Residents and landlords face fines of up to Dh100,000 each if more than three tenants are found to be sharing one room.
Inspectors from the municipality's Tawtheeq property registration department will be visiting flats and counting the pairs of shoes outside the front door. They will also see how many parking spaces are being used.
"When we have a one-bedroom apartment and 15 people living in it, it becomes a health hazard, safety hazard, and it's not a good standard of living," Ali Al Hashmi, project manager for Tawtheeq.
Under the law issued by the Executive Council, three men are permitted to share one room of 14 square metres. Smaller spaces or more residents are not permitted.
If the inspectors suspect illegal occupancy, they go to Public Prosecution and ask for permission to enter the premises, Mr Al Hashmi said.
Tenants, landlords and investors may then have to pay a fine of Dh100,000 each.
The Executive Council issued its Occupation Law in March last year, with a bylaw released in March this year.
The municipality introduced the law in mid-August after a grace period. It covers the entire emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Mr Al Hashmi said complaints from residents were another way Tawtheeq inspectors found out about illegal occupancy.
Many families are uncomfortable when large groups of single men gather in their buildings, he said.
"We are inspecting these bachelors' accommodations on receiving complaints from residents and Abu Dhabi government portals," he said.
Mr Al Hashmi said the municipality would have statistics available about the number of fines issued at the start of next year.
If people share accommodation, "the names of all three persons will be mentioned in the tenancy contract and they can avail all sorts of facilities", he said.
"If a room has been rented out to a mix of bachelors and is being shared by males and females, owners and residents will be penalised because it's entirely illegal and against the tenancy laws of the country."
The municipality is making the public aware of the law by advertising in the media.
Mr Al Hashmi said the municipality had received positive feedback from the community, but added some people would have to wait until inspectors came before taking action.
He said the law was clear on the number of residents and types of villas for single men.
"Even if the villa is huge, the maximum number of bachelors who are allowed to live there is six," Mr Al Hashmi said.
The law prohibits single men from living in villa compounds or townhouses. They may only live in single villas.
It is also forbidden for family and singles to mix in one residential unit, with the exception of extended families.