x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Villa demolitions cause uproar

Residents in villas slated for demolition have two days to get out of their brand new waterfront homes.

Residents in villas slated for demolition have two days to get out of their brand new waterfront homes.
Residents in villas slated for demolition have two days to get out of their brand new waterfront homes.

ABU DHABI // More than 40 residents of an Abu Dhabi Gate City compound have been given two days to move out of their brand new waterfront homes after the municipality ordered the partitions in their villas torn down.

After losing a court appeal last week on the legality of the subdivisions, residents were told by the developer's maintenance worker that their leases would be honoured and a second appeal would take about a year, residents said yesterday.

More than a dozen residents gathered at the gates of the community when a demolition crew and several police cars arrived outside the villas armed with a court order demanding the walls be demolished. The group set up a "human barricade" in front of the electrical room at the compound and blocked the utility company from cutting power.

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"We understand that the partitions are illegal, but what we as residents want is just to have some warning," said Joel Ericson, a resident with an infant son. "We only learnt a half an hour before they came what they were planning. That's not enough time."

All the tenants have moved into the compound within the past four months. Rents range from Dh85,000 to Dh130,000 a year.

The demolition of partitions in the 42-flat community is part of the municipality's clampdown on buildings with illegal subdivisions, which can cause safety and health hazards and are in violation of the city's building codes.

The landlord, Tarek al Wikl, insisted the partitions were legal and had been approved by the municipality before residents moved in. It was the second time in two months that residents had to fight off crews trying to shut off power to the flats without warning before knocking down interior walls. Residents were told last night they had two days before crews returned.

"First, the problem for us is finding a new place to live so quickly," said Dennis de Castro, a 36-year-old resident from the Philippines. "Then, the second problem is getting our money back."

jthomas@thenational.ae