D-Day arrives for illegal villa tenants

People illegally sharing villas in some of Dubai's most affluent areas will have to move out by the end of today.

DUBAI// People illegally sharing villas in some of Dubai's most affluent areas will have to move out by the end of today as the deadline imposed by Dubai Municipality expires. If they fail to do so they face having water and electricity supplies cut. Officials said yesterday that inspectors will be observing activities in areas with villas that are subject to the the "One Villa, One Family" rule.

Residents affected have had 30 days since initial notice to find alternative accommodation. Mohammed Abdul Rahman, head of building inspection section at Dubai Municipalaity, said there would be no more extensions and action would be taken against violators. He said landlords flouting the laws by letting villas to more than one family could be fined as much as Dh50,000 (US$14,000). Estate agents that have been housing families in such villas could also be penalised.

More than 50 building inspectors will ensure that the new rule is observed, Mr Rahman said. The campaign began earlier this year, when families sharing villas in al Rashidiya area were asked to move out. Amenities to several villas were also cut, forcing families to live without water or electricity and eventually move out. Last month, the municipality extended the campaign to other parts of Dubai, including people sharing luxurious villas in Jumeirah, Umm Suquiem and Al Wasl.

Landlords have been asked to make sure their villas house just one family. Only immediate family can live in a villa. Relatives such as cousins, uncles and aunts would be asked to move out if there was overcrowding, officials said. While some families have moved out, many others continue to live in the villas hoping to get an extension. Many are hoping that only overcrowded villas will be acted upon. Many say they have not been served notice on their villa.

The municipality said families have to move out even if they have not received a notice. Others have complained that there is no cheap accommodation available and it would take much longer to find a home. pmenon@thenational.ae