x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Residents still waiting for water bill refund

Developer said it would make payments to householders after a flaw in tanks sent charges soaring to as much as Dh10,000 a month.

Jumeirah Village, where a suspected defect in the water tanks resulted in high bills for some residents.
Jumeirah Village, where a suspected defect in the water tanks resulted in high bills for some residents.

DUBAI // Residents who had to pay unusually high utility bills are still waiting for compensation from the developer. At least a dozen residents received monthly utilities bills for as much as Dh10,000 (US$2,700) last year because of a suspected defect in the water tanks attached to their homes in the Jumeirah Village Triangle .

The residents said the flaw, which caused water to overflow, sent their bills soaring. In a meeting with residents in September, the developer Nakheel said it would compensate them for the excessive water portion of their bills. In a subsequent e-mail statement, Nakheel said that although it was "not contractually responsible, as a goodwill gesture" it would "compensate residents for costs due to water overflow".

However, months later, many residents are still waiting. "The entire episode is really frustrating," said Salma Nabil, a former resident of the community. She received a bill of more than Dh25,000, of which the developer promised to pay around Dh6,800. "We had a small palm tree in the garden. They were telling us that the water bill was high because the tree was consuming a lot of water," said Mrs Nabil. "We could not believe this excuse."

After a series of discussions with Nakheel, the developer assured Mrs Nabil and her husband that it would pay for the excessive portion of the bill. They are still waiting to be paid. Frustrated with management's responses, she and her husband moved out earlier this year and are now living at The Springs. "We still have to settle the water and electricity bill. The developer made the promise in September but there is no sign of them paying up," she said.

"At our new home we received a bill of Dh2,000 despite having a swimming pool. So, there is a clear difference." The problem began in April 2009, when the community of several dozen villas was first connected to the services of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa). Residents had used power generators and water provided by Nakheel since moving into their homes in January. The villas were under warranty for construction defects, which residents argue made Nakheel liable for utility costs that resulted from the defect in the water system. Most refused to pay the bills, telling Nakheel that it was obliged to cover the disputed costs.

Another resident, who did not want to be named, said until recently he and his wife rented a villa in the Jumeirah Village Triangle and were one of several tenants affected by the high water bills. They have been waiting three months for a promised Dh6,800 refund to his Dewa account. "On November 1, 2009, I accepted a 'Jumeirah Village high Dewa water bill water consumption credit' offered by project director," he said. "Since that time I have patiently waited for the account to be credited, which it has not."

The 42-year-old said that every inquiry he and his wife had made since then had been met with the response that the payment was in process. They, too, have since left the development and moved to The Springs, but they must pay the outstanding Dewa charges on the property before they can open a new account at their new villa. "I would love to have the credit but I probably have a fifty-fifty chance of seeing it again," he said.

"If they were not going to reimburse us they should have said it. But they promised they would and they haven't held up to that." The developer Nakheel did not respond to requests for comment. @Email:newsdesk@thenational.ae