Palm Jumeirah residents’ beach row drags on
DUBAI // Shoreline developer Nakheel remained unmoved in a legal wrangle that has resulted in a ban on hundreds of residents using the beach outside their flats.
Homeowner associations on The Palm Jumeirah said they were up to date with all payments to Nakheel, but claimed they continued to be denied access because of a commercial dispute between Nakheel and IFA Hotels and Resorts, owner of site operator Riva Beach Club.
This week, a letter was sent to Nakheel which stated a legal opinion that said residents had a right to use the beach.
Nakheel’s payment dispute is with the beach club, but residents said they are being penalised by being denied access to the beach.
Estate agents claimed property prices have dropped as much as 10 per cent and buyers are being put off by the situation.
“We have been lobbying the developer and Rera (the rental dispute authority) to bring a resolution without any joy,” said Julian Redman, chairman of the Al Haseer & Al Nabat Owners Association.
“We have seen the value of our properties fall, and it surely must affect the credibility of the Dubai real estate market if investors see developers can change the rules post-purchase without any explanation.”
A row erupted last year, when security guards marched on to the beach demanding that everyone leave and take their belongings with them.
Rear doors to the two buildings concerned – 7 and 8 – were locked, leading to fire safety concerns, and they were only reopened after complaints.
“The tactics to remove residents from the beach and subsequent confrontational behaviour by Nakheel security have been incomprehensible,” Mr Redman said. “In one instance a lady with her child was so intimidated by security guards that the girl was brought to tears.”
This week, a letter was submitted to Nakheel following a consultation with Rera, and legal advice that residents had a right to beach access but that Riva Beach Club could not operate on the beach without a signed licence agreement.
Residents tried to access the beach but were again denied by Nakheel employees, this time backed by police.
They have since been sent a letter saying anyone trying to sunbathe there would be treated as trespassers.
“This has dented people’s belief of owning on The Palm,” said estate agent Barry Gale, of Prestige Real Estate, who estimated a downturn of between 5 to 10 per cent in prices this year.
“Many properties are available but if you rent or buy on Shoreline you expect to have beach access. Why would you pay top rates when you can go down the road and get full beach access?
“People are renegotiating tenancy agreements, and using this dispute as a bargaining chip.”
Residents have also bemoaned a rise in communal clubhouse membership fees, with annual rates up from Dh5,700 to Dh11,400.
A spokeswoman for Nakheel said: “IFA Hotels and Resorts, owner of RIVA Beach Club has, for almost a decade, charged residents and guests several million dirhams to use the Nakheel-owned beach without our prior permission and without making a single payment to Nakheel.
“In February 2017, the two parties reached a commercial agreement covering IFA’s use of the beach over these past years. Almost four months on, IFA has failed to pay Nakheel. Access will be granted if and when IFA pays for its historical use of the beach and signs a new contract relating to its future use.
“In addition, in December 2016, we offered, via the Owners Association, membership of neighbouring Shoreline beach clubs – with the same terms as existing members – as a solution until the issue is resolved.
“Under the terms of the sales contract issued to IFA [beach club] when they bought the clubhouse facility, beach access is subject to fees being paid to Nakheel,” a spokeswoman said.
“IFA has continually delayed entering into this agreement and has therefore been charging residents and guests to use a beach it has no legal right to grant access to.”
In December last year, Nakheel offered residents membership of neighbouring Shoreline beach clubs through the owners associations – with the same terms as members – until the issue is resolved.
“We sympathise with the people affected, but reiterate that our correspondence is with IFA as we have no contractual relationship with individual investors at these two Shoreline buildings,” Nakheel said.
A spokesman from beach club said the company would not comment on matters of either commercial or legal dispute.
* This article has been amended to include further response from Nakheel
Updated: June 3, 2017 04:00 AM