Maids’ rooms show the law needs teeth

When maids' rooms fall short of required minimum floor space of 6.5 square metres, they are described as storage rooms. Ravindranath K / The National
When maids' rooms fall short of required minimum floor space of 6.5 square metres, they are described as storage rooms. Ravindranath K / The National

Having rules to regulate the property market is clearly important, but they serve little purpose unless they are backed by efforts to ensure that developers abide by those regulations. As The National reported yesterday, this issue has been illustrated by maids’ rooms that fail to meet the minimum sizes specified by the Abu Dhabi Municipality for inhabited spaces.

When these rooms fall short of required minimum floor space of 6.5 square metres, they are described instead as storage rooms. But when the property is marketed, these tiny rooms are advertised as maids’ rooms even though a normal-sized bed cannot fit inside. One tenant said they would not even keep a pet in such a room.

A key question is who is responsible for this situation? Property developers who deliberately portray maids’ rooms as storage rooms to get around the rules are clearly at fault, but so too are real estate agents who then advertise these rooms as maids’ rooms. Both groups have a duty to be honest in their dealings, but both tend to act in their own self-interest and will do what they think they can get away with.

Because of this, some responsibility must also lie with the enforcement agencies who must ensure the rules are followed. Municipalities have to stand up for the community by upholding standards. The prevalence of supposed storage rooms for maids’ accommodation shows there is some deficiency in this aspect of their job.

Having rules without effective enforcement is a recipe for standards being flouted. The advice given by the management of Etihad Towers to one family to “get a short maid” is, if true, clearly inappropriate and indicates an open acknowledgment by the management that the rules had been circumvented.

The issue is that if rules are broken on something like maids’ rooms, what other rules – possible affecting safety – are also being ignored? With the real estate market expanding in Abu Dhabi, a close eye on enforcing minimum standards will help ensure its stability and sustainability.

Published: December 16, 2014 04:00 AM

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