Illegal subletters could face Dh1 million fine under new Abu Dhabi housing crackdown
President Sheikh Khalifa approves tough new law to tackle multi occupancy of homes in the capital
UAE President Sheikh Khalifa has approved a new law aimed at tackling illegal subletting and overcrowding in residential buildings in Abu Dhabi.
Offenders who breach housing regulations - including both tenants and landlords - could be hit with a fine of up to Dh1 million under the legislation.
The law has been issued in a bid to toughen up regulations surrounding the shared occupancy of residential properties in the emirate.
Fines for housing violations previously ranged from Dh10,000 to Dh100,000, rising to Dh200,000 for repeat offenders.
Last June, Abu Dhabi Judicial Department said more than 800 people had been prosecuted for living in apartments or villas shared with others in a period of 30 months.
The owner of a property is also deemed liable if it is proved that a tenant has subleased the home, according to the law.
Properties marked for a full or partial demolition should also not be occupied, leased or used, the law states.
Ben Crompton, managing partner of Crompton Partners Estate Agents in Abu Dhabi, said the new law means landlords must be vigilant about the actions of their tenants.
“The law seems to make the owner of the property a partner in the crime if the property is leased to multiple people in violation of current laws,” said Mr Crompton.
“In the past there has been a problem in Abu Dhabi where the owner leases out his villa, for example, to an investor and that investor then subdivides it and rents it out to other people illegally then when the municipality close it down they try to bring a case against the investor who often skips town or can’t be found and the owner is not a party to that violation.
“This law seems to change that to make the owner party to a violation where if multiple people are renting his property, he is also liable.”
The dangers of illegal subletting were put in the spotlight after a blaze ripped through an overcrowded property in Sharjah in November.
A woman and her son died in a house fire in the emirate that injured 64 others, including her elderly parents.
The Pakistani woman, 43, and her seven-year-old son died after suffering from severe burns and smoke inhalation when the fire tore through the property in the crowded Maysaloon area.
Overcrowding raises the risk of fire, not least due to faulty wiring in things like extension cords that are added to maximise the use of space.
The old house had been partitioned to create nearly 60 rooms sub-let to as many as 66 people.
Updated: April 3, 2019 03:40 PM