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Water disconnections final straw for community who plan to take developer to court

RAS AL KHAIMAH // Cutting off the water supply to several tenants without warning was the final straw for residents at a gated community, who have been in dispute with the developer for years.

About 300 Al Hamra Village residents have engaged a law firm as they plan court action against Al Hamra Real Estate Development over changes to utility providers that will cost the community Dh137 million.

Last week, several tenants said they came home to find that their water had been cut off and locks placed on their valves, even though they are up to date with their payments.

They said tenants were being punished for landlords not paying the upgrade fees, which are as high as Dh110,000 a property, when the community moved from a private electricity supplier to the Federal Electricity and Water Authority.

“When I came home from work on Tuesday, my water was cut off and a lock had been placed on the water valve,” said one tenant, who lives in a two-bedroom apartment in the village.

“I was given no notice and have paid all my utilities on time and in full.

“I was told by Ahred call centre that they cut off the water due to a non-payment by the owner on a Fewa upgrade.

“After a lot of arguing they agreed to turn it back on temporarily.”

Other residents affected have taken to social media, met the developer, written letters and moved out of the ­community.

“On Christmas Eve, a ­heavily pregnant lady with a small child had to beg Ahred to ­restore her water supply while her landlord dealt with this issue,” said an owner’s representative.

“An 87-year-old grandmother cancelled her Christmas visit because she was scared about having no water.”

The Dubai law firm Alderson and Associates are acting on behalf of the group of 300 residents and have determined that the Fewa upgrade charges are illegal.

Lawyers wrote to Ahred to explain this but said they had received no response.

According to residents, Ahred refused to reply to any legal letters and deny that any legal dispute exists.

“We have been waiting to switch to Fewa for years and thought the cost of doing so could be a few hundred dirhams or Dh1,000,” said one homeowner, who bought his property nine years ago.

“That’s when they sent us a bill for Dh137m and called it an upgrade fee, whereby owners should pay between Dh30,000 and Dh110,000 each depending on the size of the home.

“We employed a lawyer to demonstrate to Ahred that this is illegal.

“We have continuously tried to have a settlement with the developers but they refused to cooperate and started to issue warnings.

“We are going to have to take them to court to finalise the issue.”

The homeowner said the developer had stopped processing no-objection letters required by owners for a variety of reasons, such as selling the property, painting exterior walls, carrying out modifications or obtaining title deeds, until the upgrade fees were paid.

Residents said they did not know if the upgrade fees were from Ahred or Fewa because the developer had not shown them any documentation.

“The landlords of the properties affected have not paid their utilities and community bills, despite repeated reminders,” a spokesman for Ahred said.

“We would encourage all tenants to contact their landlord immediately to ensure all outstanding payments are paid promptly to ensure continuing supply.

“This has affected very few properties as most owners pay their bills on time.

“Electricity is provided by Fewa and as such we cannot comment on the rates.”

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The National