Dubai: Some residents of a tower in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) have cried foul over their building developer’s alleged “lack of transparency” when issuing chiller charges, which now amount to thousands of dirhams.
Pakistani expatriate, A.S., who owns a one-bedroom flat in Lake City Tower in JLT, said he has refused to pay his chiller charges for more than a year because the charges are unfair.
The JLT has a district cooling system.
“Since January 2012, I have stopped paying the bill because they’re charging absurd charges,” A.S., who now has an outstanding bill of Dh10,000, told Gulf News. “I don’t mind paying but only if they give me value for my money.”
A.S. said his chiller consumption does not correspond with what the real estate agency is charging him. He is being charged between Dh400 and Dh500 for regular months and Dh800 during summer months on top of his monthly Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) bill of around Dh200.
“As I am the only person living in that apartment and usually I stay out for hours at a time, that means my AC remains off the whole day,” A.S, said, adding he is out of the country almost four months a year due to the nature of his business.
Mohammad, 35, who rents a one-bedroom flat in the same tower, said: “I asked them to show me how they make their calculation. They said it is based on the size of the flat as there’s only one meter in the whole building.”
Mohammad said his Dewa bill is usually between Dh200 and Dh250 while his chiller charges are between Dh300 and Dh600.
Comparing this rate with standard flats in non-freehold areas such as Bur Dubai, the difference is huge. A working resident who has similar living conditions to Mohammad and A.S., said her one-bedroom flat in Bur Dubai with regular AC generates an average Dh400 Dewa bill monthly. Another one-bedroom flat in Al Barsha generates between a Dh350 to Dh450 Dewa bill in regular months, and Dh550 during the summer.
A representative from the real estate company told Gulf News they calculate the chiller charges based on the size of the flats. They receive one bill and divide it among the flats, regardless of occupancy, since the individual chiller meters inside the flats are yet to be activated.
“We don’t charge any extra fils on the chiller charges. Whenever the bill comes, we divide it according to the area. We are actually using money out of our own pocket to pay for the AC charges of the whole building to cover for those with delayed payments just to keep the AC running,” a representative from Home Builders Real Estate told Gulf News.
The representative said they have started to activate the individual meters in each flat for a fee of Dh1,200 to generate consumption-based bills by November. Some 380 out of the 444 flats have been completed. But he said there are tenants and owners who refuse this arrangement, and among them are Mohammad and A.S.
“If there are already meters in the building, why then didn’t they use them from the beginning?” Mohammad said.
The representative said although the meters had been installed before the handover of the building, the contractor did not complete the formalities hence the meters were not functional.
It is unclear if the management had prior knowledge of the existence of the meters before the dispute arose.