Tens of thousands of Dubai residents who have dodged paying housing fee will soon start getting billed, a senior official has told XPRESS.
Abdullah Hashim Abdul Gafour, Head of Dubai Municipality's Housing Fee Section, said: "By law, everyone must pay this fee."
Many, however, have yet to be billed for the fee — equivalent to 5 per cent of the tenancy contract.
"We've had some technical issues which have been sorted out. Now, we're ready to go and start billing units that were not billed previously," he said.
The fee, he said, will not be charged retro-actively — but there will be no discounts given either.
"The charges will not be backdated. We're just going to resume the billing as usual for the new batch of tenants until we cover everyone. "
He said the municipality's appeal to residents to use a secure website to key in rental details fell on many deaf ears.
"Many have ignored it. The website has been up for over a year now. We're advising our customers to use it to make it easier for them. Tenants who didn't comply or [failed to] fill the information online — these are the people we're targeting in this campaign."
The housing fee is based on a 1962 law. A tenant renting a Dh80,000-a-year unit must pay Dh333 in monthly housing fee, which comes with the Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (Dewa) bill. A resident who lives in his own freehold unit pays 5 per cent of the property's rental value based on the Rera index.
Over 300,000 tenancy contracts are estimated to be sorted for housing fee billing.
"Our job is to implement this law throughout Dubai. But because there are too many new and existing residential units, we could not do it all at once," said Abdul Gafour.
Many complained that Dubai Municipality's slow place of housing fee collection unduly punishes old residents.
"We are being unfairly charged just because we've been here longer," said an Indian executive who has lived in a Karama flat for over 10 years. "If this fee pays for garbage collection, street lighting and other services … fine. But why are we being unduly burdened?"
Others do not mind as long as it is evenly charged. "I used to pay Dh196 per month housing fee while renting a one-bedroom unit at International City. When I moved to a new unit, it disappeared from my bill, though I've registered my contract online," said Albert, a Filipino resident.
Landlords/representatives must register their rental contracts with www.ejari.ae, under the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera). Online registration helps Rera monitor the market and draw the rental index. It also ensures tenants pay housing fees regularly. A Dh160 fee is chargeable to register a lease agreement with Ejari. Ejari registration is mandatory to obtain utility services.