x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Evictions on hold while municipal inspectors check building's state

More than 250 families win a reprieve when a decision on whether they should be evicted was postponed until October.

The Zabeel building in Al Karama, Dubai, which the management says needs extensive renovation.
The Zabeel building in Al Karama, Dubai, which the management says needs extensive renovation.

DUBAI // More than 250 families won a reprieve yesterday when a decision on whether they should be evicted from their building was postponed until October. Tenants of the Zabeel building in Al Karama, which houses Indian, Pakistani and Arab expatriates, were given eviction notices in May after the owners said the building was in a "bad condition" and needed immediate renovation.

Residents and the Zabeel management went to the head office of Dubai Municipality yesterday to discuss the matter with the civic authorities, who concluded that a team of municipal inspectors should visit the building and report on its condition. Residents would be told of the findings on October 7. "The decision has been postponed. We will send inspectors to access the building," said Mohammed Ahmed al Sheikh, the general secretary of the municipality's rent committee.

In a notice distributed to all the residents, the management said that concrete had started falling off the structure. "Therefore, in order to secure the public safety, we require to carry out full comprehensive maintenance," said the statement. The tenants were originally given until December 31 to find other accommodation. The management also claimed that there had been several complaints from the municipality asking it to renovate the structure.

One resident said yesterday: "Lots of people turned up at the municipality as a mark of unity and to express our disapproval against the decision." The building, which is more than 30 years old, has 252 flats and more than 35 commercial units that include shops, showrooms and offices. The annual rent for a three-bedroom flat was put by residents at just over Dh35,000 (US$9,530). Several of them have been living in the building since it was opened.

The families insisted that the management could go ahead with the works even if they stayed. "We do not think there is need for all this renovation. The building only needs to be painted and the rest seems fine," said one. The management plans a complete renovation, with central air conditioning, basement parking and other facilities. Residents have been promised first preference once the work is complete.

pmenon@thenational.ae