Abu Dhabi: Hundreds of residents of Al Reef Community in Abu Dhabi have submitted a petition to the developer and the Abu Dhabi Municipality to reverse the recent hikes in service and cooling fees.
Located close to Al Raha Beach and Yas Marina, the community comprises 2,376 villas and 1,818 apartments and houses over 16,000 residents.
In January, developer Manazel Real Estate sent emails to owners announcing a hike in service and district cooling fees. This was after raising the transfer charges last year in the case of a property sale.
“The hike is ridiculous. It is almost 50 per cent,” said Lebanese expat owner of a one-bedroom apartment, who has been charged Dh14,317 towards annual service fees. He paid Dh9,792 last year.
“We have not been given sufficient warning or justification for the increase. Additionally, in the email, the developer warned owners that a penalty of 12 per cent would be applicable to those who fail to settle the dues within a month of the invoice date.”
Adding to his woes is a steep hike in the annual district cooling capacity charge which has risen from Dh546 to Dh2,000.
A western expat owner of a three-bedroom apartment said his service fees went up from Dh21,058 to Dh30,791, and the capacity charge from Dh1,269 to Dh4,930. “This is way to high” he lamented.
Another issue homeowners have with the developer is that Al Reef Community is not been registered with Abu Dhabi Municipality as per Law No. 3 of 2015 regulating the real estate sector in the capital.
“Without registration we are unable to form an owners’ association which would have allowed us to take charge of the development,” said a resident.
“The law also stipulates that there should be an escrow account for every residential development. Should this happen at Al Reef, the owners will know where their money is being spent. The developer has not shared with us any report or financial statement of the development,” he said. The petition also includes issues related to lack of facilities in the development.
Owners claim a plot of land earmarked a four-star hotel has now been converted into a paid parking lot. They also claim several free parking spots are regularly used by non-residents. “A new sports facility that is being built is expected to draw hundreds of non-residents. Why should our premises be given for others to use?” quizzed another resident.
According to some owners, property prices in the development have fallen 20 per cent owing to the market dip and the high service charges. “At Al Reef we pay one of the highest service charges and this means our rate of investment is way lower than other properties,” said an owner.
A comment from Manazel was not available immediately.