Bachelors evicted by civic officials from an overcrowded building in Abu Dhabi are caught in a pensive mood. The authorities cited health and safety concerns for the action. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Dozens of bachelors were recently evicted for living in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions that also raised serious safety concerns, a senior Abu Dhabi municipality official has confirmed.

"The bachelors were ordered to leave after a court order was issued on Monday. This action was taken because, despite repeated visits and warnings from our investigators, the building's investor and tenants did not reduce the number of occupants in each unit," Ali Al Hashimi, Tawtheeq project manager at the Abu Dhabi Municpality, told Gulf News.

Tawtheeq, launched in November 2011, streamlines all housing procedures for property management companies and for tenants. The system was extended to private landlords last month.

Tenants evacuated the 14-floor building, which is located on Passport Road, on Monday in the presence of both municipality officials and members of the Abu Dhabi Police.

"The investor and tenants were given a grace period over 10 months to reduce the number of occupants. But they did not comply and so we had no other resolution except to begin this process," Al Hashimi said.

The building's owner had reportedly approached the municipality after discovering that an investor in the development had been illegally renting out housing units to bachelors, with several units accommodating over 30 tenants. Further investigations also revealed that the investor withheld over Dh11 million in revenue from the owner over a two-year period.

Regular inspections

"This particular situation was brought to our attention in 2010. After investigating the matter, we discovered it was a gross violation of tenancy laws that state that no more than three people may occupy a room in any residential units," Al Hashimi said.

"It also posed great risks to the health and safety of the tenants in cases of emergencies such as fires," he added. "During one of our investigations, we discovered 80 people residing in a villa; however, despite encountering such violations, there is a growing number of landlords and tenants who are complying with our housing regulations," he said.

"We rely not only on our investigative teams but also any complaints or observances by members of the public; additionally, the municipality organises awareness campaigns on various issues, with our latest one to be launched in May about overcrowding in residential units."

Sharjah: Bachelor rules in force

Sharjah municipality has already enforced rules barring bachelors from family-oriented neighbourhoods and moving them to specified zones in a bid to enhance levels of security in residential areas.

Eng Sultan Al Mualla, director general of Sharjah Municipality, told Gulf News that the relocation campaign applies to all bachelors.

"Blue collar workers have been instructed to relocate to a worker's accommodation in the industrial areas, while other bachelors have to relocate to apartment buildings. The rule clearly states that bachelors are not allowed to live or share accommodation in villas," Al Mualla said.

The rule was announced in the first week of April, and municipality inspectors have launched inspections in various areas, with Samnan, Halwan, Al Khezammia and Al Mansura the first neighbourhoods to come under scrutiny.

The inspectors will subsequently make their rounds in other areas with villas inhabited by bachelors.

— By Mariam M. Al Serkal, Staff Reporter