Abu Dhabi: Senior officials from the Municipality of Abu Dhabi have received more than 200 complaints of illegal partitioning cases in various villas across the capital city.
The municipality discovered the violations via two ways, according to engineer Omar Al Hashimi, Division Manager Municipal Offices.
"Supervisors either see the violations themselves while visiting the location or we receive complaints from people living nearby the location," he said. "Complaints are mainly regarding the increasing number of cars parked in the area or lack of security."
Reem Murad and nine other tenants residing in the same villa located behind Zayed University had been surviving without water and electricity for the past week. Most of the families are fasting during Ramadan and depend on a nearby mosque for water.
"When our electricity and water got disconnected my three-year-old daughter and myself spent the night in my car," she said.
"My daughter is diabetic and cannot tolerate this heat or lack of water. My husband works in Dubai and drives daily from and to Abu Dhabi."
"Now we are jumping from one hotel to another and wasting our money on accommodation," she added. "The owner wishes to get us out and charge new tenants triple the current rent amount we are paying or maybe the owner wished to build extra partitions to make extra money."
A Sudanese family who have been living on the top floor of the same building for the past two years told Gulf News that water and electricity have been cut several times before.
"We are fasting in this heat and are eating iftar outside the house," said the daughter, F.A., 28.
"The situation is very unpleasant. We need the government to find a solution. They want to punish the owner, but at the end it's destroyed our lives," she said in tears.
When Gulf News spoke to Karim Ragaie, the owner of Bayt Al Ezz Real Estate (BAERE) and investor in the building, he claimed that the only illegal act he committed was building a studio in the entrance of the villa.
"When I was advised by the municipality to demolish the studio I did so that same day," said Ragaie. "Now they are claiming that I have to remove all partitions in the villa. How can I do that when there are tenants living there? I feel very bad for those tenants and am willing to return the rest of their rent money, but I need them to willingly leave their apartments."
No specific law
According to the investor, the municipality does not have a specific law or regulation regarding building partitions in villas.
"There are more than 700 villas with partitions, comprised of 10 to 15 studios. Why are they picking on this specific villa?" asked Ragaie.
Al Hashimi stated that the municipality's aim is to remove violations created by investors.
"In this specific case, we have sent an evacuation letter to all the tenants two months ago but it has not reached them for some reason. Our role does not stop there, we make sure the investor demolishes the partitions, if he doesn't, we intervene and demolish it ourselves and charge the investor the damage, which we will probably do in this case by next week," he said.
In addition, BAERE has also been given a warning letter last month from the municipality to freeze files under process for a building license.
According to Salem Salmeen, Supervisor of Buildings, the municipality makes sure that 100 per cent of tenants are kept alert regarding demolition decisions.
"We have cases where four or five families are living in garages that they have bought for quite a big amount," he said. "We have endless problems when it comes to insurers."