x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Families told to leave Dubai community marked for demolition

Tenants at Emirates Oasis Villas, many of whom have renewed rental contacts until next year, were sent eviction letters in February warning them to leave by September as the villas would be demolished in February 2015.

The Emirates Oasis Villas are due to be demolished in February next year. Pawan Singh / The National
The Emirates Oasis Villas are due to be demolished in February next year. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // Families living in a quiet villa community say they are being bullied into leaving by developers who plan to pull down their homes in nine months’ time.

The tenants, many of whom have renewed rental contracts until next year, were sent eviction letters in February warning them to leave by September as the 90 villas off Sheikh Zayed Road will be demolished in February 2015.

However, instead of moving, several residents have decided to stay in the Emirates Oasis Villas and have asked for a mandatory 12-month notice required under property laws.

Property manager Asteco Property Management, on behalf of developer the Al Habtoor Group, said the notices were legally valid and have warned tenants that landlords can start preparation work ahead of the actual demolition. Soil testing work began three weeks ago and tenants have complained about noise from digging machinery and generators.

“The law is clear but they think we have no choice and will leave,” said Abdul, who preferred to give only one name. “We feel bullied and stressed out. This has been handled unprofessionally. I’m not going anywhere until my contract ends next year.”

He is one of more than 50 tenants who have written to the developer asking that legal notices be served by notary public or registered mail in compliance with tenancy agreements.

“We respect the law and they should respect us. All we want is the required 12 months,” said Abdul. He was one of many tenants whose contract was renewed between December last year and February this year, only to receive an eviction notice on February 26.

“We are 30 to 40 families and we will put up a fight because this is not right. We love this compound but these actions have left a sour taste. Many of us have had our kids born here and our children go to school around here.”

Home to doctors, software engineers, architects and lawyers, many residents have lived in the tree-rimmed community dotted with brown picket fences for more than a decade. It is located near several schools. Tenants who approached the Land Department were told the February eviction letter was not valid. They plan to appeal for permission to stay or for compensation for vacating early.

A Land Department official said they often received complaints from individual tenants asked to vacate without required notice.

“Landlords must give the notice of eviction by notary public or by registered mail,” the official said.

“Tenants must receive at least 12 months’ notice that the tenancy contract is not being renewed so it gives people time to search for a new accommodation.”

Asteco maintains the February notice sent by personal delivery along with an acknowledgement receipt from tenants was “a legally recognised valid form of notification”.

“If tenants moved out prior to the expiry of their contracts, we have refunded the balance of any rent paid and refunded their security deposits,” an Asteco spokesman said, adding they were in discussion with only 13 of the remaining tenants for an amicable solution.

“Legally the tenants who wish to can stay in their villas until their contracts expire, but they must also remember that legally the landlord can start preparation work in the vacated areas ahead of the actual demolition,” the spokesman said.

“That could create environmental, security and safety issues and that is our primary concern.”

Asteco said there could be “minimal disruption” from preliminary site works.

rtalwar@thenational.ae