4,000 residents break one villa, one family rule

Dubai authorities cut off power to hundreds of homes in the first half of the year because of violations, saying there are enough units for rent, but tenants argue most housing remains too expensive.

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More than 4,000 residents broke laws on sharing villas in Dubai in the first half of the year, resulting in power being shut off at hundreds of homes. Omar Abdul Rahman, the municipality's head of building inspection, said power was cut off at 1,654 homes that continued to violate the one villa, one family rule after being given warning letters, WAM, the state news agency, reported.

More than 40,000 homes have been inspected by the civic body since the rule was launched in May 2008 to prevent multiple families or individual residents from sharing villas, and clamping down on the illegal partitioning of homes. The rule states that villas can be occupied only by single families. The municipality intensified its inspections last month when it cut off water and power supplies to hundreds of residents in early morning raids in areas that included Al Jafliya. Illegal occupants were served notice to leave immediately by municipal inspectors.

Among the violations alleged were overcrowding, with 10 to 15 single men housed in tiny, partitioned rooms. Some even lived on rooftops or under staircases, inspectors said, adding that overcrowding presented a safety risk. Electricity and water lines had been tampered with, and new wires rigged up to allow more people to live in each room. Separate water pumps were also set up inside villas. At the time, authorities urged the residents of illegal villas to move to areas such as Al Quoz, Jebel Ali, Al Qusais, Al Nahda and Muhaisnah, where they said cheap labour accommodation and residential units were available.

"In the present economic climate, there are enough rooms available for good rates," Khalid Selaiteen, the head of the environmental emergency office, said at the time. However, evicted residents said they had few other housing options, with many of the available apartments too expensive. * The National