x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Nakheel says it is still owed Dh58m in unpaid service fees

Owners at the Shoreline Palm Jumeirah development are being charged fees that have not been approved by the Government.

DUBAI // Nakheel, the developer of the Shoreline Palm Jumeirah, has collected 20 per cent of the Dh72 million it says it is owed in unpaid service fees in the last month amid a row over beach access, according to its chairman.

But the owners argue that some of those fees have not been approved by the emirate's property regulator.

Nakheel last month blocked beach, pool and gym access for residents whose units had outstanding service fee payments. The beach ban has affected some tenants who are not responsible for paying the fees but cannot now use the facilities.

The charges, required of owners to fund the upkeep of the property, must be approved by Dubai's Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Rera) before they are invoiced.

But Rera has only approved Shoreline fees levied during the past two years that go towards maintaining the residential towers - and not for the "clubhouses" or adjacent buildings that house the gym, cafes and other amenities.

"Only Rera-approved building service fees [building service charge general fund and building service charge reserve fund] for 2010 and 2011 shall be paid in full," it said in a December 15 meeting. "Rera instructs Nakheel to revise the previously sent outstanding arrears [if any] to reflect only outstanding building service fees for 2010 and 2011 and will instruct Nakheel to send revised invoices to all owners once more."

Owners, however, say they have been required to pay their full invoice from Nakheel before being given access cards for the beach, pool and gym. "There's no way around it at the moment," said one owner, who recently paid an invoice listing building fees and clubhouse fees. "The only way they'll give you a pass is if it says zero."

Lists of owners in arrears, posted throughout the development in December but removed over the weekend, referred to "master community and clubhouse fees".

The master community fee is meant to help maintain roads and other shared spaces on the Palm.

About Dh58m in unpaid fees remain outstanding, the Nakheel chairman Ali Rashid Lootah said yesterday.

"We continue to push ahead with outstanding payment collection to allow us to ensure ongoing maintenance and improvements at our facilities and payment to our service providers," he said.

He said service fee rates had dropped by 35 per cent since 2009. The firm declined to comment specifically on the issue of Rera-approved fees.

Separately, on Sunday, Nakheel postponed by two weeks a plan to charge membership fees for beach, pool and gym usage of Dh2,000 for an individual and Dh5,000 for a family of four.

The announcement came days after the Rera chief Marwan bin Ghalaita said residents should have not have to buy memberships to use the facilities.

chuang@thenational.ae