Dubai tower fire: Homeless tenants face hefty hotel bills

Building developer offered free hotel accommodation for two nights, after which tenants have to pay costs themselves.

Tenants who lost almost all of their possessions in the fire at the 34-storey tower early on Sunday said yesterday they had no way of paying hotel bills or rent.
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DUBAI // Hundreds made homeless by the Tamweel Tower fire have been told they will have to pay for accommodation and wait for partial reimbursement.

The developer Tamweel paid for residents, many of whom lost passports and bank cards in the blaze, to stay in hotels for two nights.

But they were yesterday told they would have to pay for future accommodation.

Tenants who lost almost all of their possessions in the fire at the 34-storey tower early on Sunday said today they had no way of paying hotel bills or rent.

"I don't know where I am going to live with my children," said Ilham Laullami, a mother of two whose 24th-floor flat was destroyed.

A spokesman from the Tamweel-appointed owners' association, said residents would eventually be reimbursed a portion of the accommodation through the building's insurer.

But Ms Laullami said she had no credit cards to foot the Dh10,000 bill for a month's accommodation and was appealing to Tamweel.

"They shouldn't treat everyone the same," she said. "Some people have had no damage but we have lost everything. They are a big company, they should look after people better."

A source connected with the insurer Arab-Orient said evaluators had yet to be granted access to the building. Police and Civil Defence are in the process of preparing an investigation into the cause of the fire.

A Vasuthevan, who lived on the 20th floor, said the arrangement was far from ideal.

"They're saying that we can claim the money back but it's not clear when that would be," Mr Vasuthevan said.

"It's not fair that they're asking us to pay up front. We're people who've lost everything in the fire but they're a massive company. They could easily cover this."

Residents were informed by the owners' association on Monday evening that it would only be able to reimburse a portion of the cost of the accommodation.

John Stead, whose family of six used to occupy a three-bedroom apartment on the 32nd floor, said the reimbursable fees of a three-bedroom apartment were Dh12,000, and any further cost would have to be borne by his family.

"It's woefully inadequate," Mr Stead said. "There's no way we'll all be able to find a three-bedroom for that amount. The cheapest we have been able to find is Dh20,000 for the month."

A spokesman for Tamweel said the owners' association was solely responsible for the residential part of the building.

"Property insurance cover for Tamweel Tower is arranged by the building's owners' association," he said. "Tamweel is not the owner of the building.

"In reality, the tower belongs to the owners of the units. Tamweel has ownership of the four commercial floors and retail space."

The spokesman added the owners' association appointed a five-person board, including a representative from Tamweel, to oversee day-to-day running of the building.

"The board had taken an all-risk insurance from Arab Orient Insurance Company and the premium payment was made from the building maintenance fee, which was paid by the owners," he said.

"The total value of the insurance for alternative accommodation is Dh1,485,000 and this has been allocated to the unit owners in proportion of their unit area. Under the terms of the policy, this is on reimbursement basis.

"Although provision of alternative accommodation is not legally within the purview of Tamweel, the company is supporting residents by liaising with the insurance company.

"Furthermore, Tamweel has waived its rights to any claims under the alternate accommodation clause of the insurance policy in favour of other owners and residents, and has additionally offered to facilitate the processing of claims for apartment owners and tenants, although the company has no responsibility to do so."