x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Nationals warned to end illegal subletting

UAE nationals illegally subletting land granted to them by the Government are being told to stop.

SHARJAH // UAE nationals illegally subletting land granted to them by the Government have been told to stop or face having their land taken away. Sharjah Municipality officials said undercover investigators would be sent to real estate firms to seek out and report violators. "At the present we have about 24 cases we have found out and have asked these government beneficiaries to withhold their land from the subcontractors within one month or the land would be withdrawn," said Khalid bin Butti al Muhairi, the director of the emirate's department of planning and survey. Subletting such land to anyone is illegal. Violators would also be denied further land grants. Emiratis were given land in residential areas so they could use it to provide their families with a decent standard of living. "There has also been some land for agriculture given out to the nationals for cultivation of plants, especially horticulture, or any other plants suitable for our climate. We want them to earn a living by cultivating it themselves, not subcontracting it," Mr Muhairi said. Municipal officials were dismayed to see houses were being built on land granted to Emiratis for agricultural purposes. Mr Muhairi said it was especially disappointing in cases where building subcontractors ignored the country's planning strategies. He said the authorities were working to update and implement Sharjah's real estate laws, particularly those relating to the disposal of land. Emiratis are given land titles through several schemes to ensure they have a decent standard of living. Among them is the Sheikh Khalifa Housing Programme, under which nationals receive grants and loans for land and homes. Since it began in 1999, the programme has sponsored the construction of 13,000 homes. This year, 5,000 Emiratis will benefit from it. Before 1999, several programmes operated at the federal and emirate level, including in Sharjah, with varying degrees of success. Since the 1970s, the Government has built thousands of housing units. This year, the Federal National Council proposed that Emirati women married to men from other GCC states should qualify for the programme. Other suggestions included giving priority to widows, divorced women, the elderly and people with special needs. The Government is also considering rebuilding many homes that were either improperly constructed or are no longer habitable. In rural areas, many homes built on government land have fallen into disrepair or are inadequate for their occupants, prompting some title-holders to lease buildings or land for other purposes. ykakande@thenational.ae