Dubai: The Dubai Municipality has disputed the free-zone status of Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT), torpedoing thousands of residents' hopes of getting housing fee exemptions.

An official said JLT's status must be clarified by a decree or law, adding that free zone claims by a developer does not mean housing fee exemption for its residents.

Abdullah Hashim, head of the Housing Fee Section at Dubai Municipality, said: "Jumeirah Lakes Towers is not officially a free zone."

Hashim said residents of towers in the ‘mini-Manhattan' around man-made lakes developed by Nakheel have bombarded them with queries about the housing fee exemption following an XPRESS report.

No exemption

"There are a lot of areas claimed as free zones, but they are not free zones. The article [published on September 24, 2009] stated the free zone areas are exempt [from housing fee]; JLT was wrongly named a free zone. We never said that… this has created a lot of confusion.

"JLT is not a free zone. None of the buildings there are considered part of a free zone," he said.

Hashim added that the municipality, however, is waiting for a list that clearly states the areas designated as free zones.

"We've raised this issue with the concerned authorities to come up with a clarification on free zone areas in Dubai."

Khalid Ahmad Abdul Qader, head of Housing and Markets Revenue Unit, earlier told XPRESS the municipality does not charge housing fees to those who live inside free zones, but freehold property residents are not exempt from the fee.