x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Dubai cuts off 200 villas a week

The municipality cuts power and water in an attempt to evict people sharing homes, but some tenants illegally reconnect.

DUBAI // Dubai Municipality is cutting power and water to as many as 200 villas a week in an attempt to evict people who are sharing homes, but some of the tenants are defying authorities and illegally reconnecting services, a senior official said yesterday. He announced a plan to extend the eviction campaign to other kinds of accommodation, including overcrowded apartments. Omar Mohammed Abdul Rahman, the head of the buildings inspection section at the municipality, said inspectors had identified 4,200 villas that violated the rules and housed shared families.

"We are cutting water and electricity services to at least 150 to 200 villas per week," he said. Few families have voluntarily moved out of shared villas, although the deadline to leave passed nearly a month ago. "The Dubai Municipality wants residents to follow instructions and move out so that we are not forced to cut off their water and electricity supply. Some people have moved out but others are still staying and it looks like they will move only when we take action against them."

Mr Rahman said the next stage of the campaign would cover buildings across the city if overcrowding was found in apartments. "Partitioning inside rooms, building extra bathrooms, kitchens or rooms is illegal without the permission of the municipality. Too many people living in flats is also unhealthy and bad for the environment. "Our inspectors are surveying flats and if we notice overcrowding then we will start a similar campaign in flats as well." Owners of overcrowded flats would be fined and water and electricity supplies would be cut.

The "One Villa, One Family" campaign was begun in the summer and those defying it face heavy fines. Owners and tenants have been fined up to Dh50,000 (US$13,624) since the Oct 24 deadline to leave passed. Officials have not said how many people have been fined. Officials from the buildings department held a "managers on air" programme yesterday, urging residents to call a toll-free number and speak about their concerns and complaints.

How have the new rules on shared villas affected you? Tell us at thenational.ae/yourview The department received dozens of calls on questions ranging from building permits to bachelor accommodations and villas. In the first part of the campaign, families sharing villas in Al Rashidiya were asked to move out. Utilities were cut off to several villas, forcing families to live without water or electricity and, eventually, to move out. In October, the municipality extended the campaign to other parts of Dubai, including people sharing luxury villas in Jumeirah, Umm Suquiem and Al Wasl.

Landlords have been asked to make sure their villas house only one family and only immediate family members. Relatives such as cousins, uncles and aunts are not permitted due to overcrowding, officials said. Families which continue to live in villas unnoticed by the inspectors say their big problem is finding alternative accommodation. "It is no longer about moving out from here. It is about the finding another affordable place to live. Many of us are still in these places because we have not found another place," said a resident of a villa, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.