Blaze residents’ new flats for less rent

More than 100 families will move to new homes in same complex at cheaper rents after being told insurer will pay costs.

Athar Abbas and his wife Eman at their new apartment after their previous one was damaged by fire in Ajman. Satish Kumar / The National
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AJMAN // Residents of the two Ajman One towers damaged in a fire last week have been given two pieces of good news – they could move into new flats at a cheaper rent, and the buildings’ insurer will cover costs.

More than 100 families renting in the affected towers six and eight have begun moving to new apartments in the same complex at lower prices than before, said Ghaleb Jaber, general manager of Real Estate Investments Public Corporation, the developer and owner of Ajman One.

Flat owners who have been moved temporarily will pay nothing as they will be go back to their property when it is repaired, while those originally renting a two-bedroom apartment for Dh45,000 are being offered another two-bed flats for Dh40,000. Those renting a one-bed unit for Dh38,000 are being offered an alternative for Dh35,000.

Of the 400 occupied apartments in the towers, 105 families had come forward to ask to be moved.

“Those who came to us, we cancelled their previous rent contract and made them a new one in another apartment in the other towers,” Mr Jaber said, adding that only 40 apartments out of 570 in the two towers were directly affected by the fire.

He said that the building was fully insured, and that the insurer would pay to repair owners’ homes and anything damaged, such as furniture, jewellery and clothing, in the blaze. The fire damage cover even extends to tenants.

“Owners of the apartments submit papers and the insurance company compensates them after they do a complaint at the police station. We are giving them temporary flats with a rent contract, to make their accommodation legal without taking money from them,” Mr Jaber said.

“All residents will be compensated because the issue is more humane. But now they are not allowed to return [to the flats] unless by order of the CID and the insurance company.

“If I get that order, 60 per cent of the residents can return to their apartments in the two towers because the affected apartments are limited.”

Mohammed Al Shamali, a Palestinian who lived on the first floor of Tower Six, started moving into his new apartment in Tower Two yesterday.

“I got married on March 26 and I moved to my apartment on Monday, the night of the fire,” said the 26-year-old. “We lost everything – furniture, my wife’s wedding dress and our new clothes. The cost of all losses is about Dh35,000.

“For the compensation, I asked, and some told me there was no compensation. Others said check directly with the owner, who told me no compensation, and some said there was. So we don’t know when, from who and how.”

Palestinian banker Arslan Abdullah, who was living with his wife 13 floors up in Tower Six, also started moving to Tower Two yesterday. “I was living in a one-bedroom costing Dh42,000 and the new rent price is Dh35,000 – they decreased the price because of the difference in size and view. My previous one was bigger than this one,” the 28-year-old said.

However, Athar Abbas, a Pakistani bank employee, said that his rent remained the same.

“I made the new contract today [Monday] and I got the same price, Dh45,000, for two bedrooms, and I don’t have any idea about the compensation,” said the 44-year-old, who added that he was still in a hotel with his wife and three children.

“I am now buying new furniture and the only things left in my house are a television and one bed,” he said. ​

Before neighbouring apartments became available, Mr Jaber said the Ruler and Crown Prince of Ajman had told his company to relocate all affected people to hotels at the company’s expense.

“The quick solution in the beginning was to take them to hotels and book rooms under the name of the corporation,” said Mr Jaber. “We sent our delegates to hotels to tell them not to take money from the residents and, after a week, we collect the invoices from all hotels and pay them. And these are directives from Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi and Sheikh Ammar bin Humaid Al Nuaimi.”

Investigators are still looking into the cause of the March 28 fire, said Brig Gen Saleh Al Matrooshi, a director at Ajman Civil Defence.

“The investigation into the cause of the fire is still ongoing, and the experts are still at the incident site taking samples and examining the rooms and cladding [to find out] where the fire started,” he said.

roueiti@thenational.ae