x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Emaar puts bad neighbours on notice

Emaar has warned residents that they could face fines of up to Dh1,000 if they violate its community rules.

A trolley sits abandned on the grounds of Dubai Marina. The community's developer, Emaar, has imposed fines on those who disrupt the serenity and order of its properties.
A trolley sits abandned on the grounds of Dubai Marina. The community's developer, Emaar, has imposed fines on those who disrupt the serenity and order of its properties.

DUBAI // The developer Emaar has warned residents against disturbing neighbours and spoiling the image of its properties, introducing fines for anyone who violates its community rules. With their secluded settings and perfectly manicured lawns, Emaar's projects are sought-after by new arrivals and longtime Dubaians alike, with few vacancies and the highest growth in value among the city's numerous developments. The properties trade on the promise of a "tranquil and verdant" setting with "tree-lined streets and distinctive, spacious villas".

But woe betide anyone who spoils that appearance. Residents who fail to maintain their gardens, have too many satellite dishes on their balconies, leave bicycles in a communal corridor or make too much noise face a fine of up to Dh1,000 (US$272). The new rules, which apply to all of Emaar's 20,000 tenants, were recently posted in the communal areas of its residential developments over the past few weeks. Those who come under the guidelines live in Emaar properties including Dubai Marina, Emirates Hills, The Greens, The Meadows, The Springs, Arabian Ranches, The Lakes and Emaar Towers, which have sprung up in the past eight years.

The imposition of such fines is now customary in housing developments in the US and UK. But while some residents welcomed the regulations, others felt they were too draconian. One tenant from The Greens, who did not want to be named, said: "I have lived here for several months and noticed the posters going up in the last couple of weeks. There is a feeling that it is a bit overzealous and smacks of Big Brother.

"However, there are some people who are fairly arrogant and disrespectful of their neighbours, so I can see how the rules would help. We have people in our block being a nuisance, making lots of noise and children running up and down the halls hooting their bike horns at 1am. People from different parts of the world think that behaviour is acceptable. "I would not report anyone myself and I do not think most people would tell on their neighbours unless the offence is very drastic."

The "community rules" brought in by Emaar Community Management warn residents that they face "notices of violation" in four different categories, including poor home maintenance and appearance, misuse of patios and balconies and failure to maintain gardens. Other breaches of the rules include antisocial behaviour - noise, abusing staff and dumping rubbish - violation of parking and traffic policies and the misuse of parks, playgrounds and plants.

Fines in each category range from Dh500 to Dh1,000, while those flouting parking rules face having their cars towed away. The warning to residents reads: "Help us help you. Community living is the cornerstone of a progressive society. The community rules are for the benefit of owners and residents alike. "The intent is to create a serene, attractive and safe environment for all. Rules will be enforced uniformly without exception."

Emaar said it had already begun issuing notices for serious violations but declined to say how many. Cases of bad parking have been referred to Dubai police. A tour of Emaar properties revealed clusters of visible satellite dishes in The Greens, an abandoned shopping trolley in the grounds of the six towers in Dubai Marina and children's bikes and toys clogging a hallway in Murjan in the marina. Emad Tabaza, the managing director of a gas company who owns a villa in The Springs, said: "I do not see a problem if you do not violate the freedom of others. If you park and someone cannot get out, or you are partying day and night, of course it is a nuisance, but if you are not disturbing anyone else it is fine.

"Those who break the rules should be sent a warning and then fined if they don't listen. "The trees along the main road into the village have been removed by Emaar so the rules should apply both ways. They should also penalise those who illegally fill townhouses here with labourers." An Emaar spokesman said: "Issuing community rules to residents is part of the overall community management programme that has been developed in the larger interests of all residents in Emaar's master-planned communities.

"These rules are issued for the well-being, safety and security of community members." The rules had always been in place, he said, and were presented to homeowners in a manual when properties were handed over, but they had recently been updated with "concerted efforts" to notify residents. "In cases where residents violate the rules, they are issued with a notice of violation that may carry an appropriate penalty," said the spokesman.

"The money collected from penalties is credited to the respective community-service-fee fund as income." The concept of issuing violation notices was, he said, "still new and Emaar is implementing it gradually. Response has been positive and residents have been proactive in following community regulations. "Currently, we are issuing notices for serious violations and in due course will implement the rules to letter and spirit."