Nakheel on Sunday banned more than 1,300 residents on its flagship Palm Jumeirah project from using the beaches, pools and gyms in the first stage of a controversial plan to charge for the use of facilities.
Security staff received a 22-page document seen by Arabian Business, which held the names of 1,386 owners on the Shoreline development that have not paid their service charges in full.
Owners or tenants living in these properties have now been denied access to any facilities, and were warned they could be arrested if they attempted to enter the pool and gym areas.
Many of the apartments have at least two people staying in them, so the actual number of affected residents is likely to exceed 2,500.
Nakheel declined to comment when approached by Arabian Business.
Amidst angry scenes on the Palm Shoreline on Sunday evening, some residents threatened to call the police, claiming Nakheel had no right to deny them access to the beach facilities.
Other tenants complained that they had “no idea” about outstanding service charges and had rented their properties in good faith. A Facebook campaign, calling on residents to challenge Nakheel over the legality of the move, was also launched last night.
“This is shocking what they are doing, a total disgrace,” one resident told Arabian Business. “Our family, with young children, has literally been booted out of the beach because the landlord hasn’t paid his service charges. I don’t know what to do. This used to be such a nice place to live, now the atmosphere is horrible. Most of us can’t wait until our lease expires to leave.”
Another resident said: “I’m staggered. This is meant to be the Palm Jumeirah, but in truth is the only development in Dubai where you can’t use the pool or gym, unless you don’t mind getting arrested.”
The banning of residents is a precursor to a complex set of charges being introduced by Nakheel from Jan 1, which will see all residents forced to pay up to AED12,000 to use the beach facilities. Access is still understood to be subject to payment of all service fees.
Initially it was believed that families of four would be charged a subsided AED5,000 a year, and individual tenants AED2,000. Nakheel also planned to open up membership to non-tenants at a yearly cost of AED12,000 per family.
However, Nakheel has now given owners first option to take up the subsidised ‘resident’ charges, whether their property is leased or not. This could leave rented tenants facing fees of AED5,000 for single membership and AED12,000 for family membership.
In notices posted at the weekend, Nakheel also said that in apartments with more than one tenant, only the leaseholder would be entitled to the cheaper ‘resident’ charges, with all other tenants required to pay the unsubsidized fees.
All guests will be charged AED200 to enter the beaches during weekends, and families with more than four members will be charged up to AED2,000 for every extra child.
“I’ve never seen such a ridiculous scheme,” said one resident. “If you have a one-week-old child you need to pay AED2,000 extra so you can take the pram on the beach if this is your third child. But the child is too young to even have a passport picture. How can anyone think this is a good idea?”
Other residents spoken to by Arabian Business said they planned to leave the Shoreline development as soon as possible.
“I paid AED200,000 to rent my flat and today my family and I were treated like criminals because we tried to enter the beach area. To be honest, even though I still have four months left on my lease I might just move out straight away out of principle,” one resident said.
Security staff at the Palm told Arabian Business their numbers were likely to be boosted ahead of the weekend, over fears residents may attempt to force their way onto the beach.
Nakheel, developer of Palm Jumeirah, has been locked for weeks in a dispute with homeowners over its plan to privatise Shoreline’s pools, gyms and beach. Owners argue they own the facilities.
Dubai’s Land Department this month asked owners to pay outstanding service charges into an escrow account it had established, and not to Nakheel, as it moves to determine who holds ownership of Shoreline’s common property.
A number of homeowners have told Arabian Business they are withholding their maintenance fees until the dispute is resolved.