Dubai: JLT tower residents sweat it out without AC in summer heat

Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on May 10, 2021
The outlet duct of a portable AC many of the residents have been using.

They say they have paid their dues, and hold the company managing the building responsible.

Tenants of a high-rise building in Dubai's Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT) are fuming as they have been living without air-conditioners for half a year now.

Cooling services were cut off at the Preatoni Tower over a dispute about unpaid bills. Tenants said most of them were paying their dues on time, but they claimed the firm that used to manage their building failed to remit their payments and could have misappropriated the funds. Now, a new company has taken over and government authorities are investigating the matter.

As they wait for the issue to be resolved, the tower's 200 residents are left with no choice but to sweat it out in their flats.

NP, who owns a couple of apartments in the tower, said: “Why should the whole building pay the price for those who haven’t paid? It is unfair on the part of the service providers to cut the cooling services of people who have paid their charges. It is Ramadan, many are fasting, we have pregnant women, old people and children in the building who can have severe health issues with the soaring temperatures.”

He said they noticed the AC problem in October last year. “The air-conditioners weren’t as they should, and gradually, the AC power was completely cut off. I have supplied my tenant with portable ACs but it is not enough.”

Besides the cooling issue, several other services were eventually affected — from cleaners to elevators. The residents raised the issue and a new management firm was assigned to take care of the building services.

“Chilled water services were withdrawn and we have to make do with burning hot water from the overhead tanks. In the last six months, we have suffered so much, along with our tenants. A few days ago, even the elevator stopped working and it was crazy as residents who stay on upper floors of our 46-storey tower had to take the stairs!” NP said.

Worse, some agents duped residents into renting a unit without telling them the air-conditioner wasn’t working.

Elsa, a UK national and a working mum, was one of them. “I moved in to the Preatoni Tower with my four-year-old daughter this year as I liked its location. Neither the landlord nor the agent mentioned a word about the AC issue. Since the weather was good when I moved in, I didn’t require the air-conditioner but as days progressed and it got hotter, I tried switching on the AC but it didn’t work.

“This is when my landlord told me about the issue and told me it will get resolved soon. He gave me three portable ACs but nothing seems to work with the heat outside. I have to put a hose outside the window, which leaves a some part of the window open, letting all the heat in.”

Murachelli Pierluigi, an Italian national, never thought he would have to live in a home cooled only by a portable fan.

“The agents fooled me by saying the matter would get resolved next week but their promise had not seen the light of the day. My apartment temperature is 35 degrees and I cannot stop sweating although my portable fan is on 24/7. I hope this issue gets resolved before something serious happens,” he said.

Kami, another resident, moved into the tower just recently but as soon as she realised the AC wasn’t working, she wanted to leave. Unfortunately, they had already paid all the down payments. “The agents have taken cheques for the full year and they are not letting us break the lease, let alone return our deposit and agency fee. To top it all, the agents are extremely rude to us, they ignore our calls and when they pick up, they say that the cooling services will resume in a few days but that hasn’t happened in the last few months since we moved. We are miserable and seek desperate attention from the authorities to help us out before any of us falls sick.”

Elsa added that because of the situation, she and her daughter spend most of their day outdoors. “Things were going from bad to worse as the cleaners stopped coming to our building, leaving it in a very unhygienic condition. We cannot afford to invite more diseases especially when we are already dealing with the pandemic. I am worried for my daughter and it is very frustrating as we do not know who to go to,” she said.

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