Two-tier living: High rental is forcing many expats to live in bed spaces Image Credit: GN Archives

Abu Dhabi: Bachelors and middle-income families in the capital say they are forced to flout civic rules on sharing accomodation as they have no other options even as authorities crack down on them.

They know they risk being fined and evicted.

“Do we have a choice, other than risk being fined?” asked Pakistani A. Mohammad, who lives with three families in a four-bedroom villa in Muroor.

The father of three, a sales manager for a hardware company, said his monthly salary of Dh12,500 is hardly enough to rent a decent apartment in Abu Dhabi.

“I will have to shell out half my salary in rents. Even after doing that, I will not be able to send my kids to school or meet other living expenses,” he said.

Mohammad is among many expats going against the new municipality campaign aimed at curbing illegal shared accommodation.

In June, the civic authority launched a ‘Say No to Bachelors’ campaign in a renewed effort to flush out bachelors living crammed in residential units. The municipality has asked landlords to evict bachelors and workers living in shared accommodation with immediate effect to avoid violating Law No. 1/2011, governing the occupancy of residential units and properties designated for residents in Abu Dhabi.

Since then, nearly 800 legal cases were filed against companies and families following inspections of residential buildings.

A fine of Dh10,000 is imposed for first-time violators. The fines will be doubled for repeat violations.

However, even as civic inspectors tighten the noose on violators, demand for shared rooms and bedspaces continues to soar. Newspaper classifieds and websites abound with ads announcing bedspaces for bachelors and single ladies. “Bedspace available for Filipinos [only] in a two-bedroom apartment in Hamdan street. Dh650 a month,” reads one among several similar ads in the classified section of a daily.

Residents say they have no choice. “Not all families can afford to pay Dh80,000, which is the starting rate for a two bedroom unit in the city,” said Indian salesman Fayaz Shabeer. Fayaz and his colleague share a room in a two-bedroom apartment. They pay Dh1,100 each.

“There are hardly any one-bedroom or studio flats available. Where will we go?” asked Shabeer.

Some middle-income families take to sub-letting to generate extra money as they struggle to pay their rents.