x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Parking spaces leased to tenants illegally

Landlords are forcing some tenants to pay for parking spots in the capital, despite it being illegal.

There are some tenants in a new apartment complex near the Corniche that are illegally being asked to pay 10,000 AED for a parking spot in the underground parking area in their building.
There are some tenants in a new apartment complex near the Corniche that are illegally being asked to pay 10,000 AED for a parking spot in the underground parking area in their building.

ABU DHABI // Landlords are still charging tenants for car park spaces in some residential and commercial buildings across the capital, despite stringent laws that generally prohibit the activity.

The Department of Transport (DoT) confirmed that, according to Law No 18 of 2009, each tenant has the right to one free parking space in the garage of his or her building.

The law, which was issued directly by the court of Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE, stipulates that the leasing of parking spaces in building car parks is not permitted, unless there is a surplus.

Despite the law, some landlords are demanding payment for all parking inside their buildings.

Ayman Hegab signed a lease in October for a two-bedroom apartment in Waqf Zayed Higher Organisation building on the Corniche, managed by Burooj Properties.

He was surprised when the building managers asked him to pay an additional Dh10,000 in order to receive a parking spot. He refused, and filed a complaint with the DoT.

“Every day, I have to fight with security to let me park where I should have the right to park anyway,” he said. “This law is not known to many people, and a lot of landlords exploit tenants’ ignorance and charge them for parking.”

Mr Hegab is not alone. Eman Hussein, who lives in a building on Airport Road, was required to pay an additional Dh5,000 for a parking spot in her building. She said she never made it a point of discussion when renewing her lease.

“I think people are so desperate for parking, they just pay without thinking twice and considering their rights,” she said.

Khaled Abdul Khalek, also a tenant in the Waqf Zayed building, is struggling to obtain a parking spot that he should rightfully receive. After signing his lease in October, he was also asked to pay the same amount as Mr Hegab. For the time being, he parks his car outside.

Tenants say their leases do not specify the parking rate. Instead, the price changes when the tenant comes to sign the contract.

“They tell you it’s either Dh120,000 without parking or Dh 130,000 with parking. However on the contract, it’s a flat rate,” Mr Khalek said, adding that he has struggled to find parking spaces near his building.

A property agent from the Pure property company confirmed that different prices were requested for apartments in the building: one with parking, and one without.

The agent declined to comment on the legality of the leases, because of relationships with the building owner, Burooj Properties.

Mohammed Badria, an associate project manager at Burooj Properties, said the law was enforced only from November, and therefore does not apply to tenants who signed their lease before then.

However, DoT officials confirmed that the 2009 law does apply to all tenants.

The Waqf Zayed building contains 240 apartments and only 186 parking spots, making it difficult to provide every apartment with a parking spot, Mr Badria said.

Under the law, the number of parking spaces required per building is based on the number of square metres in each building. If there are not enough parking spaces for each tenant, priority goes to the apartments with the most bedrooms.

After that, parking spaces aregradually distributed to the smaller apartments. If all the units in a building have the same number of bedrooms, priority goes to families that have been living in the building for a longer time. Building owners can rent additional parking spaces to residents only if surplus parking is available.

In buildings that combine residential and commercial space, the law says that residential needs must come first.

Mr Khalek said he found it difficult to believe that all the parking bays in his building were occupied.

“There are spots that look brand new and haven’t been used,” he said. “I don’t understand. If the building is full, how are these parking spots empty?”

The law says that unless there is a surplus, landlords are not allowed to lease spaces to tenants who are willing to pay for more spots.

“There are three apartments that have two parking spots each, and we’ve been asked by the DoT to take back the additional spots and give them to other tenants – which we are doing,” Mr Badria said.