x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Dubai tenants stand firm over eviction

Dubai Municipality is due to meet with representatives of more than 250 families who are refusing to move out of an old complex in Karama after receiving eviction notices.

Dubai Municipality is expected to meet today with representatives of more than 250 families who are refusing to move out of an old residential complex in Karama after receiving eviction notices from the owners. Tenants of the Zabeel building, which has been housing Indian, Pakistani and Arab expatriates, were given eviction notices in May. The owners said the building was in "bad condition" and needed immediate renovation. The tenants were given until December 31 to find another place to live.

Mohammed Shalabi, a consultant with Dubai International Real Estate, a government-managed development firm, yesterday said the municipality had ordered the renovation. "We received several notices from the Dubai Municipality asking us to initiate renovation. They said that concrete from the front elevation was falling, causing risks to residents as well as pedestrians. This is why we decided to do complete renovation of the building."

He said the residents were refusing to move out because most had lived there for a long time, meaning the rents were much lower than in newer buildings of similar size. The building has 252 flats and more than 35 commercial units that include shops, offices, showrooms and others. It is nearly 30 years old. Some residents said they had been living in the building for decades. "It is not possible for us to find homes for such rents anywhere in Dubai," one said. "There are so many families living here and if evicted all will have nowhere to go."

The annual rent for a three bedroom apartment in the building was just over Dh35,000 (US$9,530), residents said. The families insisted that the management could go ahead with the construction even if they stayed in the building. "It is impossible to renovate with people staying," Mr Shalabi countered. "Water and electricity has to be cut off, floor tiles would be removed and all this cannot be done with people living there."

To resolve the deadlock, the municipality has summoned all tenants and shop owners to a meeting. Representatives from the company will also be present. "We will accept whatever decision is taken by the Municipality," Mr Shalabi said. Some tenants suggested that the renovation was only an excuse to get the tenants to leave so that owners could then charge higher rents to new tenants. pmenon@thenational.ae