x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Temporary reprieve on lifts for Burj Khalifa residents in fees row

Burj Khalifa tenants were given a reprieve when they were allowed to use lifts to get to their homes, despite some landlords still not paying outstanding service fees.

Apartments in the Burj Khalifa are on the 19th to 108th floors. Residents face being stranded if Emaar closes access to the lifts. Satish Kumar / The National
Apartments in the Burj Khalifa are on the 19th to 108th floors. Residents face being stranded if Emaar closes access to the lifts. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // Burj Khalifa tenants were given a reprieve on Sunday when they were allowed to use lifts to get to their homes, despite some landlords still not paying outstanding service fees.

Air conditioning in the world’s tallest tower, at 829.8 metres also remained switched on to all apartments, although security cards giving access to gyms and pools were deactivated by the developer Emaar.

Access to facilities and utilities were due to be cut on Saturday, Emaar’s deadline for fees to be paid.

Now some tenants, unsure how long they will be able to get home or even when their landlords will settle the bills, have decided to look for new places to live.

“They gave us a one-day extension instead of services turned off on Saturday, these were turned off today,” said a Burj Khalifa resident.

“We got a call from Emaar that we could use the lifts and they said the air conditioning would not be switched off. They have turned off everything else – gym and pool access. “We have asked for an extension of facilities since we have paid our rent in full. We view it as a small win for tenants that we can use the elevators but it’s best to move soon.”

Developer Emaar issued letters last month listing services that would be cancelled as a warning to owners of apartments whose maintenance fees were unpaid.

“We write to you in respect of outstanding service fees. Despite our earlier notice, follow-ups and legal notice issued to the unit owner the fees have not been settled,” stated the letter dated January 27.

“Should we fail to receive the payment by February 5, we will be forced to cease all of the above services effective February 8.”

There was no response from Emaar on Sunday but on Thursday the developer urged owners to make payments since this went towards management of common areas.

“While most homeowners have paid their service charges, it has been noticed that a few owners are yet to make the payment. A circular has been issued to remind and urge residents to pay the service charges to ensure the seamless management of the common areas and other community amenities,” a spokesperson said.

“For the welfare of all residents, it is the responsibility of individual homeowners to make the service charge on time.”

In the 163-floor building, studios and one to four-bedroom apartments are between levels 19 and 108. The developer did not provide the number of residents whose access to facilities has been revoked.

Tenants received support from landlords who said renters should not be punished.

“It is unfair because this is not the tenants’ fault, they have paid their rent and it is not fair they suffer,” said MG, a landlord with more than 10 properties in the Burj for which all fees are paid.

“They (Emaar) need to find something that will affect the owners, that’s what they need to focus on.”

Residents of the 900 apartments have amenities such as tennis courts, landscaped gardens, fitness centres, indoor and outdoor pools, a children’s playground and pool.

Annual maintenance fees for a one-bedroom apartment was below Dh100,000, for a two bedroom between Dh120,000 to 150,000 and for a three bedroom between Dh200,000 to 220,000

There have been numerous instances of service fee disputes across Dubai with renters advised to seek confirmation from the developer or community management that all fees were paid before signing a tenancy contract.

For the last two years, Emaar has used ‘name and shame’ tactics by identifying the house number of defaulters on display boards at the entrances of Arabian Ranches, The Lakes, Springs and The Greens. The developer also warned defaulters it could stop rubbish collections.

Air conditioning was cut for several hours to villas in Jumeirah Islands last year by the developer Nakheel. The developer also drained and then refilled swimming pools in a Palm Jumeirah development in 2012 and the year before Shoreline residents also on the Palm were denied beach access due to unpaid fees.

rtalwar@thenational.ae