x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Residents of large villas question no-sharing rule

Residents of upmarket areas of Dubai such as Jumeirah and Umm Suqueim question the emirate's one-family-per-villa rule.

DUBAI // Residents of upmarket areas of Dubai such as Jumeirah and Umm Suqueim yesterday questioned the emirate's one-family-per-villa rule, insisting that their homes were large enough to share. A tour by The National in these areas revealed that families continue to share villas in defiance of the one-villa, one-family rule and even rented out parts of villas to professional bachelors.

The practice of sharing continues despite the municipality's warnings that it has intensified its anti-sharing campaign this month, asserting that shared villas pose health and environmental risks. Tenants and landlords involved in multifamily living arrangements face fines of up to Dh50,000 (US$13,600). "There is no partition in the home or any health risks. The house is big enough for all of us," said a South African who shares his Umm Suqueim villa with a bachelor and a couple. "I would really like to know why this is banned."

Several other residents also insisted that their homes were of an appropriate size for separate families to live in their own quarters. A resident of Jumeirah 1, who acts as a leasing agent on behalf of the villa's owner, acknowledged that families continued to defy the ban. A board outside the villa offered "family rooms" with an attached bathroom and separate kitchen. "There is not a single villa in this area that did not get a notice so far," the agent said.

"However, people continue to stay here. Landlords take care of the fines, if any, assuring tenants that there will be no problem. "Some people moved out when the ban was announced last year, but others moved in." More than 5,000 villas have so far been found to be in violation of the rule, and notices have been issued to those villas and their residents, according to Dubai Municipality. These have been posted cheap and expensive areas alike, from upmarket Jumeirah to low-budget Satwa and Al Rashidiya.

The municipality said inspections would continue, with notices of violations being issued without exception. pmenon@thenational.ae