x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Utilities cut off on errant owners

Water and electricity was cut off from more than 1,100 buildings in Dubai last year after owners failed to comply with warnings.

DUBAI // More than 1,100 buildings had their water and electricity cut off by the municipality last year, after owners and tenants made unauthorised modifications, put up illegal partitions or left their buildings derelict.

Authorities said the utilities in offending villas, warehouses and commercial buildings were disconnected after residents failed to comply with warnings.

"These violations have a negative effect on safety," said Khalid Mohammed Saleh Al Mulla, the director of the municipality buildings department.

Unlicensed alterations could block fire exits or cause accidents at construction sites, he added.

Unauthorised changes could also reduce ventilation and lighting in buildings.

"The owners and tenants need to preserve the buildings according to our rules, and not make changes or additions," said Mr Al Mulla.

He said owners could only modify their buildings after their plans were approved by the municipality.

Utilities were restored to about 740 of the buildings after owners complied with requests to reverse unauthorised alterations.

The building department's inspectors made more than 30,000 field visits and checks last year, resulting in more than 4,000 warnings to owners.

In 2010, the number of warnings issued was about double that amount. "Most involved additions without permissions or sharing of villas by more than one family," said Jaber Al Ahmed Al Abdullah Al Ali, acting head of building inspection. "Some villas had more than 20 families, which is not acceptable."

The municipality would allow for building modifications after owners had sought permits.

"Some people don't want to pay for the permits," said Mr Al Ali.

Getting the paperwork for a licensed renovation can cost up to Dh1,500.

The municipality said it would continue to keep a strict eye on properties and errant owners in 2012.

pkannan@thenational.ae