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Forced evictions from multiple occupancy villas extends outside Dubai

The one-villa one-family campaign, which means only one family can now live in a villa although immediate family members may share, has resulted in services such as power and water being cut off and evictions in Dubai.

As authorities prepare to disconnect electricity and water supplies to more villas not complying with the rules in Dubai, the Department of Municipal Affairs in Abu Dhabi said it will follow suit.

Joaan bin Salem Al Dhahiri, Chairman of the department, said that inspection campaigns against bachelors and families sharing villas and apartments would be intensified.

'Inspection campaigns will be launched across Abu Dhabi, including Al Ain and Al Gharbia,' he confirmed. 'Apart from the mixed-sex housing, we will also focus on families sharing the same villa. Stiff penalties will be imposed on the landlords, investors and residents who flout the rules and conditions,' he added.

In Dubai, landlords and tenants were given a month's notice to comply with the rules which ran out last Friday. Landlords face fines of up to 50,000 dirhams while villas found to be illegally occupied will have their power supplies cut off.

A hotline has been set up for people to expose landlords who fail to uphold the new laws regarding the occupation of villas. It is believed that thousands of people could be forced to find new homes.

Campaigners have pointed out that people are forced to share villas because of the lack of affordable housing and high rents. But the authorities said many of these villas are of poor quality and not fit for habitation.

'These homes are cheap because they are dangerous and a health hazard for families living in them. They are partitioned using plywood and other dangerous materials like asbestos. We are more concerned about the safety of the people,' said Omar Abdul Rahman, the head of buildings inspection for Dubai.

'We have been giving notices to the landlords but no one seems to take any notice. We are being forced to take stronger action,' he added.