Visible from outside?: The tenant of this Al Majaz apartment was fined Dh500 for hanging laundry in the balcony which is fully covered with safety grill Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Authorities in Sharjah have doubled the fines for unsightly balconies.

A Sharjah City Municipality spokesman confirmed to XPRESS that those who hang laundry or install satellite dishes in their balconies are now being fined Dh500 instead of Dh250 last year.

Several residents in the emirate who were recently handed notices of violation by the Sharjah City Municipality say they have been fined Dh500 even for ‘negligible’ reasons.

“We always leave our clothes to dry on a tray and are careful so that they are not visible from outside. Only last weekend our maid kept a small towel out to dry on a rope in the balcony which the officials must have spotted. We were handed notices by 8am sharp that Friday,” said a shocked Robert Kaddoura, 58, an engineer from Lebanon who has lived in the King Faisal Street apartment for 10 years without a fine.

Over the last few years, the authorities have made openly hanging laundry or installing satellite dishes on balconies illegal. The move is part of the municipality’s aim to improve the look of the emirate and maintain safety standards.

However, many expats allege they are being fined even if their laundry is barely visible from outside.

“I was slapped a Dh500 fine last weekend, apparently for hanging my clothes on the balcony. I am stunned because hardly anything is visible from outside as we have a covered balcony,” said Pakistani Mushtaq Mohammad who lives on a first floor apartment in Abu Shagara.

Fine for all

Indian sales executive Azhar Saeed, a resident of the Al Majaz area, said: “All tenants in our building have been fined. Last year we were spared when the municipality was cracking down on people hanging laundry on their balconies. Things have changed this year.”

The Sharjah Municipality issued 4,834 fines in 2012 for defacing the emirate and more than 1,400 people were fined at about this time last year for failing to comply with regulations.

The civic body is yet to release the official number of fines issued so far this year but they estimate the figure has come down.

“The number of balcony violations this year is less than last year, and this reflects the keenness of the tenants to abide by laws and regulations that were put in place for public safety,” the Sharjah Municipality spokesperson told XPRESS. “The Sharjah City Municipality conducts inspection campaigns to get rid of eyesores in Sharjah. The municipality previously conducted awareness campaigns on the importance of adherence to the rules and regulations issued in this regard,” he said.

“The municipality imposes fines against tenants who hang their laundries on balconies or use these balconies as storage areas, since such violations endanger their lives or the lives of their kids, in addition to distorting the overall appearance of the building,” he added.