One third of Dubai residents are currently not being charged a housing fee amid continued delays in a campaign aimed at tightening the net on those not yet being billed, an ArabianBusiness.com poll has revealed.
Up to 32 percent of residents said they are still not being charged the mandatory fee, compared to 23 percent who have been paying for the last five years or more.
Just six percent said they had been paying for less than a year, while 15 percent said they have been charged for the last three to five years.
Nearly a quarter of residents (24 percent) said they have been paying in the last one to three years.
The speed at which the housing fee scheme, which was introduced in 2005, has been rolled out has drawn criticism from many expats, who complain the way the charge has been applied is unfair.
The emirate's government said in May 2010 it planned to charge all residents by January 1, 2011.
“I am happy to pay what the government asks of me, but I feel that it should be applied equally to all expats. I've paid over AED90,000 (US$24,500) in housing tax in the last six years while many people have paid nothing - how is that fair?” said one Arabian Business reader.
“I find it discriminating… that somebody is already paying this tax and some others are not,” said another.
Dubai authorities last week said they had been forced to push back plans to charge all expats the fee by June following delays in discussions with the emirate’s utilities provider DEWA.
“That was the initial plan - to cover all the residential units by June - but unfortunately we weren’t able to implement it so there are still quite a few residential cycles that need to be covered,” Abdullah Hashim Abdulghafoor, fees and revenues officer at Dubai’s housing fee department, said.
“It’s a joint project so we’re still discussing a few issues with DEWA, which we haven’t agreed on yet. That’s mainly why we haven’t been able to cover [it all],” he added.
Housing fees, billed through residents’ monthly utility bills, are calculated at five percent of the tenant’s annual rent. Freehold property owners pay five percent of the annual rental value, as calculated by the RERA index.
Dubai authorities are collecting fees from 17 out of a possible 27 zones across the emirate, Abdulghafoor said, including all new residents in the remaining ten areas.
Among the areas not yet fully covered include Al Barsha, Discovery Gardens, Palm Jumeirah, Burj Khalifa area and Dubai Marina.