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Dubai beach property row hots up

Last month Nakheel distributed leaflets to the Palm Jumeirah residents warning it planned to introduce fees for residents to use the facilities which they believe they already pay for via their annual service charge.

They accused the developer of trying to turn the luxury Shoreline project facilities into an exclusive beach club and charge outsiders AED12,000 a year and residents AED5,000.

Nakheel also banned residents with outstanding service charges from using the facilities by putting up barriers and issuing temporary entry cards only to those who were fully paid up.

However, Dubai’s real estate regulator has already said that Nakheel had no right to deny residents access to communal facilities by turning them into clubs.

‘By law, no one can stop an owner or a registered tenant from using the communal areas once they have paid service fees. If you bought something based on an agreement with a developer, he can’t change it,’ said Marwan bin Ghalita, chief executive officer of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA).

Now Nakheel says that the issue is under review by RERA. ‘We await their decision on the way forward. Naturally, we will respect whatever decision they make,’ said Nakheel chairman Ali Rashid Lootah in a statement.

And the developer has also said that from 15 January the entry card system will be extended to main buildings and car parks. It said this was an attempt to get those who are behind with their fees to pay up, claiming that home owners on Shoreline have AED57 million outstanding in service fees.

‘Nakheel is not preventing anybody who has paid their service fees from using our private beaches, pools and gyms. Some 78% of the fees due have been collected and those who have paid have every right to access our facilities. However, this majority cannot be expected to subsidise those who have not paid,’ Lootah said.

Lootah said Nakheel would retain a list of apartments without outstanding service fees to allow potential tenants to check whether their lease would include access to the pool, beach and gym.

The statement did not directly address Nakheel’s stated plans to privatise the beach clubs. It refused to comment on the claim that many home owners remain in dispute with Nakheel over their outstanding service charges, some of which date back to 2008.

But home owners argue they are only obliged to pay the fees from 2010 and 2011, which were approved by RERA, and not the backlog of fees demanded by Nakheel.