Dubai Allows Villa Sharing

Martin Croucher
Filed on February 3, 2009

DUBAI - More than one family will be allowed to share a villa as long as the property is not overcrowded, the head of the Dubai Municipality said on Sunday.

The statement, from Director-General Hussain Nasser Lootah, comes as an important revision of the original terms of the ‘One Villa, One Family’ campaign.

The policy saw thousands of people living in low-income areas of Dubai having water and electricity supplies cut. The cuts were made to villas where inspectors found several families living together in crowded conditions.

“In some places we see 20 people living in a five- or eight-bedroom villa. These houses simply weren’t designed for so many people to live,” he said.

“It causes problems with the Internet, Dewa (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority) and sewage facilities in the area. I have been having complaints from various departments over this issue.”

However, Lootah told Khaleej Times that more than one family could occupy a villa if it was not overcrowded.

“The main issue is overcrowding. As long as they are within the building regulations, we don’t mind for more than one family to share a villa.”

He did not elaborate on what constituted overcrowding.

Thousands of people have been made homeless due to the ‘One Villa, One Family’ campaign and many have complained of a lack of affordable accommodation.

Lootah said families living in a villa who have their utilities disconnected because of the campaign can negotiate with the municipality if they feel they have been unfairly impacted.

He confirmed that the municipality had supplied land to private and government developers to create low-income accommodation in the Al Quoz and Al Qusais areas of Dubai.

“Construction is almost complete and the accommodation will be for low-income workers,” he said.

Up to 4,200 villas in areas ranging from Al Rashidiya to Al Wasl were identified as early as in October 2008 as violating building regulations.

Omar Abdul Rahman, head of the municipality’s Building Inspection Section, who is in charge of the campaign, previously said that his team was cutting utilities to as many as 200 villas a week.

On Sunday, he confirmed that there were fewer cases of utilities being turned off, but was unable to give exact figures.

One resident, who had utilities cut to her property, told Khaleej Times on condition of anonymity that she had moved to a similarly overcrowded villa in the same area. “I am looking for a flat, but rents are very high,” she said. “I have moved now to a different villa, although we are still worried that the Dewa will be cut again.”

No Overcrowding

  • in some places 20 people live in a five- or eight-bedroom villa
  • it causes problems with the Internet, Dewa and sewage facilities in the area
  • land given to developers to create low-income accommodation

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Reader's Comments:

Municipality authorities should think before enforcing any new laws. Let them built low cost flats / villas for bachelors. - Sajeevan George, Dubai.

I read today's news about Villa sharing and readers comments. I am really happy to read all the comments. Hope that Khaleej Times will help us in this financial crisis.. – Lonappan, Dubai.

According to the rule “One Villa One Family”, I sent back my family which includes my wife and three kids. Now I’m saving a huge amount from rent, school & other livelihood expense. Actually that rule opened my eyes instead of spending whole my income here itself. - Shakeel, Dubai.

Yes, I agree with the comment by Sam Kurian, Abu Dhabi. Watchman are really exploiting the people, we have given AED15, 000 as key money for studio in Mussaffa !! - Soumya, Abu Dhabi.

Well done and thanks to Dubai Municipality. – Hareesh, Dubai.

As Expected, with Supply rising and demand declining, the owners and Government have to revise all their previous decisions. Now are the times of the market, so let’s leave everything to market forces. - NM, Dubai.

I guess Fixing number of people staying in a Villa or Apartment is very important. Currently, Karama Area has apartments which have sheltered 22 bachelors in a single apartment, greedy landlords do know about this and are willing to be blindfolded for some extra rent. This has caused havoc for parking as couple of those bachelors drive trucks and busses which occupy most of the parking spaces. From a family colony, Karama has turned out to be another low cost labour camp like Sonapur. - Manek, Dubai.

Building watchman and middle man are playing a big role in increasing rent in Abu Dhabi. Some people take flats only to sublet to others with big margin. When one flat get vacated watchman demand huge amount as a key money or he will take that flat his name and sublet to others. After knowing all these authorities are keeping silent. Government should take a proper action by appointing efficient CIDs to monitor this.- Sam Kurian, Abu Dhabi.

Authorities must think before enforcing any law. However it’s temporary good news for another one year. – Azeem, Dubai.

This is a too late decision by the municipality when they have upsetted most of the expiates here in Dubai. It is like a joke now when most of the villas are going vacant and the owners of the villas do not have resource to pay back their bank loans and meet their lively hood, then withdrawing such “one Villa One Family” campaign is meaningless.- Venu, Dubai.

I left living in a villa due to this rule and now I am paying almost double than what I used to pay in a villa sharing. I was living in a quite clean and not very much overcrowded villa in Rashidiya but still I was afraid of DEWA supply cut so I left with my family from that place. Now we can see that people leaving UAE due to financial crisis and businesses are going down therefore authorities thought it would be better to stop people by again giving them cheap accommodation by this decision. Later on when there will be boom again we might see this decision going other way round. - Naeem, Dubai.

Is there any value for this kind of rules? Thousand of families are effected and stayed with out their own rented house. Children are mentally affected by this rule where they were not able to study or sleep properly with out electricity/water. Whenever we see they bring the rule first without considering the problems of people facing and than they will change their own way.

Mr. Rasheed, Al Quoz you are right. Most of the family they have decided to go back and even I too like to despatch my things to back home. Now what is the guarantee that tomorrow they will keep this rule (villa sharing) permanently.

– Anand, Dubai.

People who live in crowded shared villa are those who cannot afford telephone and internet, hence a question about internet problem. - Ajith, Dubai.

That’s really unexpected happy news to hear. Nice, well done Dubai! – Mithun, Dubai.

75% of middle class families are already decided to pack their family back to their home country. Thousands of people have been made homeless due to the ‘One Villa, One Family’ campaign, these decision would have come 3- 4 months before. - Rasheed, Al Quoz.

Fix the number of person per bed room will solve overcrowding. - Umesh, Dubai.

Where are these low-income flats in Al Qusais?? The average price of a new 1BHK flat is going at AED85K per annum; even “Wasl” charges approx the same rent for a new flat there. Either the DM is unaware of ground realities or these “private and government developers” are over-charging the tenants! Low-income housing in Dubai was a reality 20-years back, now it’s simply a myth for the common man. - Ray Joey, Dubai.

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