x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Emaar threatens to halt rubbish collections over unpaid fees

Last month, the developer 'named and shamed' homes across Dubai that had not paid their community service fees.

A sign posted outside of the entrance to Palmera 4 in Arabian Ranches lists the villa numbers who have not paid their community service fees from 2010-2011.
A sign posted outside of the entrance to Palmera 4 in Arabian Ranches lists the villa numbers who have not paid their community service fees from 2010-2011.

DUBAI // Residents of Emaar communities have raised heated complaints over plans to stop rubbish collection services in a dispute over unpaid service fees.

The developer has said it is being forced to halt waste collection services due to mounting fees.

“Chronic defaulters with large outstanding dues have been notified by various means over the past years and as a last resort their villa number is stated on notice boards at each security gatehouse/community entrance with cessation of some services like waste collection to follow, if payments are still not made,” said an Emaar Properties spokeswoman.

Last month, Emaar began identifying the properties of owners who had defaulted on service fees with “Name and Shame” boards that went up in entrances to Arabian Ranches, The Lakes and Springs.

Similar boards have also been posted in gymnasiums in The Greens.

Several residents confirmed they had received notices earlier this month with July 19-21 deadlines stating waste collection would halt.

“People are objecting because there will be a health and safety crisis if rubbish collection is stopped,” said Anne, a Springs tenant who preferred to be identified by her first name only.

“How can they be allowed to do this? Most people are away for the vacation so they will not know about these letters. So those of us who remain will be treated to garbage piling up and rats running riot. Even if there is a problem with service fees, should whole communities suffer because of some?”

Others said they had made numerous phone calls to Emaar’s customer service centres to complain and would also approach the interim owners’ associations.

Some tenants said they received letters addressed to the wrong owner, while owners who have not paid said they did not receive any communication.

“This will not resolve anything; to punish one, they cannot punish the whole neighbourhood,” said Mariam Farag, a Lakes resident.

She had not received a notice due to a mailing address problem.

“We absolutely will pay our fees and I don’t agree with owners who don’t pay up – you should pay first and dispute it later. But they can’t stop collecting garbage.

“Dubai Municipality is very rigid when it comes to picking up trash so people can’t just go and put their trash anywhere. Rats will be a big issue.

“Putting up the boards is also an immature, childish way to settle disputes.”

Meanwhile, Emaar said homeowners had a duty to contribute to the management and maintenance of common areas and all decisions were taken in consultation with the interim board of the owners’ associations.

Owners now must clear community dues before selling property. The transfer of property is not completed until the new owner receives a “no-objection” letter from Emaar confirming all fees are settled.

As for tenants, the developer said they must ask landlords to show evidence of no outstanding fees before entering lease contracts.

“By defaulting on the service- charge payments, owners put a strain on owners’ association budgets, which impacts the welfare of the whole community,” an Emaar spokeswoman said.

However, tenants said they should not be held accountable.

“We have paid up a full year’s rent in advance,” said Terry, a resident of Arabian Ranches. “Where would we put the rubbish? We’ve just moved in and knew nothing about this fee. It is an extreme measure, it should be avoided. It will be a health risk for all residents, particularly children.”

Unpaid service fees is an issue that has cropped up in several residential communities.

Last month, the developer Nakheel drained swimming pools at a luxury Palm Jumeirah development citing Dh15 million in outstanding service fees.

It later refilled the Marina Residence pools and is working with the owners’ association to collect fees. Last year, residents of Shoreline, also on the Palm Jumeirah, were prevented from accessing the beach and other facilities due to disputed fees. The issue has not yet been resolved.

“You can’t run a community without service fees and some owners have not paid the fees for years,” said Roberto Kauffmann, the chairman of the Lakes owners’ association interim board.

“We need to find a way within the legal framework to go after owners who are not paying.”