x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Rents soar as bachelors move out of villas

Accommodation in short supply after eviction of hundreds of bachelors from a family neighbourhood.

Bachelors prepare to move out of their dwellings.
Bachelors prepare to move out of their dwellings.

SHARJAH // Hundreds of bachelors evicted from a family neighbourhood say their mass migration has inflated the cost of basic accommodation.

Many now plan to live outside the emirate and commute to work.

A decree by Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed, Ruler of Sharjah, ordered that only Emirati families could live in the Halwan area.

Since then, single men who shared rented villas in the neighbourhood have been packing up their belongings and moving out.

With hundreds of workers searching for somewhere to live, prices for even the most basic lodgings in the emirate have risen steeply, forcing the men, mostly from South Asia, to look farther afield.

"My friends have now gone to Ajman and Umm Al Quwain to look for spaces or houses there, but I want to first give [another] chance for accommodation in Sharjah near my work," said Mohammed Nasser, a Bangladeshi bachelor.

He had been quoted prices of up to Dh1,000 a month for bed space in Sharjah - up to five times the normal price of Dh200 to Dh300.

"I don't care if it is expensive here," said Mr Nasser. "Going to Ajman would mean spending more money on transport and the stress of taxis."

Zahid Mohammed Ali, from Pakistan, failed to find a place at Sharjah's industrial areas.

"I will go to Umm Al Quwain for now while I still look for a place in Sharjah," he said.

The bachelors were told to leave Halwan by municipal inspectors who were visiting the area last week. Any villa found to be occupied by bachelors would have its water and electricity switched off. "The inspectors warned us on Saturday that if they found any one of us still inside the room they would implement a big punishment," said Mr Nasser. "We decided to leave our things outside on the street and go to look for a room.

"If we found one we would quickly collect our stuff and if we didn't, maybe we could sleep again in the room at night when inspectors were not moving around."

Yesterday morning, inspectors continued moving from house to house, warning the remaining bachelors that their homes' utilities would be disconnected by the end of the day. The services had already been turned off in some villas.

Sultan Al Mualla, the director of Sharjah Municipality, said most of the bachelors had left the neighbourhood.

"Now we have asked the inspectors to cut electricity and water wherever there are some bachelors still in the area," said Mr Al Mualla. "After they are all gone we shall start on a programme to repair the houses and apartments to be suitable for families."

Sheikh Sultan visited Halwan last week to check that the evictions were being carried out according to his ruling.

The decree was made after Emirati families raised concerns that their privacy was being compromised by the high number of single male workers who lived in Halwan.

Many of the villas that had been occupied by workers are owned by Emiratis, who rented them out to companies as accommodation for bachelors. Homes found to be in poor condition will be refurbished.