On the surface, the upmarket Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) enjoys an enviable reputation — it has an attractive retail strip, The Walk; it's right on the beach and it appears self-sufficient. But all is not well in the community as trouble is brewing between homeowners and the developer, Dubai Properties Group (DPG).
Relations were already strained, thanks to the lack of community facilities and poor upkeep of common areas, as alleged by residents. The developer has angered the homeowners further by announcing that they will have to pay to use the upcoming beach club. In addition to this, a proposed beach park is currently serving as a free parking lot to visitors thronging The Walk.
"We cannot accept that something that was offered during the selling phase and well-publicised is now not delivered. Regarding the beach club, we have been informed that Dubai Properties and a luxury hotel group have inked a deal to operate it, but it will not be part of our common areas," complains Luis Morales, a homeowner in Sadaf 2, JBR.
"During our annual general meeting, we were told that if the beach club is included in the common areas, the maintenance cost would increase a great deal. Hence, they suggested that it would be better if somebody else takes care of it and we just pay to use it. We disagree and will fight for our rights. We want the beach club as part of JBR common areas to be used by owners and residents for free. This is nothing else than what was offered to us when we bought our property," Luis says.
Residents' pet peeves
Other grievances are related to the poor extraction system and the fumes emitted by restaurants in Rimal and Sadaf sectors into the basement and mezzanine car parks. "All through my four-year stay in JBR, we have been plagued by smoke in the basement," says Gopal Pai who owns apartments in Sadaf 7 and Rimal 2. There are also complaints about the lack of free gyms, and security concerns. "Unauthorised spam is dropped in front of my apartment, for instance unwarranted pamphlets advertising masseurs and part-time maids. Also, some residents from the Dubai Marina go to the beach and then take a dip in swimming pools in our buildings," Gopal says.
A DPG spokesperson: No clause in the sales contract mentioned that the beach club would be free of charge. As owner of the beach club, the Meydan Group will determine its sales policies. All residences have private swimming pools, access to which is free and restricted to JBR residents. The free-of-charge gyms will be functional in the first half of 2012. These will be maintained through service charges.
Taziz, Ejadah's property management agent, is managing the common areas under our supervision until owners' associations (OAs) are registered with the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera). We plan to upgrade access to retail on the podium. This will benefit residents.
At Property, we believe asset maintenance is a great responsibility for the developers. With the Strata Law coming into being, homeowners are conscious of their rights like never before. Apart from demanding reviews of service charges and audits of building accounts, this new breed of owners aren't afraid to point out instances where a conflict of interest arises. Consider, for example, how the administration of common areas has changed hands across DPG's property-management subsidiaries — Salwan, Dubai Asset Management and now Ejadah. The fact that all these companies are associated with the developer could open the door to a conflict of interest.
Despite the fact most OAs in JBR have not yet been registered with Rera, the developer ought to give access to the building accounts and discuss the extent of service charge arrears with interim board members. This should prevent owners from inheriting huge debts as soon as they take over the running of their buildings from the developer.
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Property: Tenants in Sadaf Towers, Jumeirah Beach Residence, were recently denied entry into their apartments because their landlords refuse to pay service fees. Is this justified?
Miki Mirza: Service fees are inflated to begin with. It is unfair to make tenants pay the price for something that is the landlord's responsibility. The landlord should be penalised in this situation. Service charges should be lowered without compromising on quality.
Regina Gonzales: The landlord should be responsible enough to follow up on their service charge dues. But, I understand why the developers need to do this. There are a lot of landlords who take months before they pay their service charges. They are taking these things for granted.