Amidst the controversy over service charges, owners of Shoreline apartments on Palm Jumeirah are demanding the right to hire and fire people running the common areas - the beach, pools and clubhouses.
Many residents were barred from using these facilities last month as developer Nakheel blocked service fee defaulters from accessing the beach and clubhouse.
Purnima Motwani, who owns a number of apartments, said: "We're the ones spending money for the upkeep of these facilities, so we have the right to get the management firm that serves our best interest."
An owner of a two-bedroom unit pays Dh21,000 in service fees annually; and Dh28,000 for a three bedroom. Motwani said, however, Nakheel is justified in denying access to defaulters: "If owners do not pay service fees, then how are facilities supposed to run? The owners' associations (OA) should ensure the service fees are paid."
Disputes over service fees emerged following the property downturn which spawned a vicious cycle in which owners complained about inflated service charges and developers complained of fee defaulters.
Nakheel said last month that the backlog of fees at Shoreline dating back to 2008 stood at Dh72 million - which has since been reduced by 20 per cent, to Dh57 million. Owners dispute the date, saying their obligation only dates back from 2010 and 2011, as approved by property industry watchdog, Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Rera).
Rera said in December that Nakheel had no right to deny residents access to common facilities by turning them into clubs.
Terry Grubb, owner of a three-bedroom unit, said: "I trust that Rera or the relevant authorities will formalise this opinion and the dispute will be concluded. Once it is confirmed the facilities form part of the common area, they will naturally come under the owners' association. The logical situation would then be for tenders to be requested from suitable service providers [as with other services within the developments]."
Meanwhile, the Dubai Land Department has called on developers to encourage setting up of owners' associations to resolve service charge-related disputes.
Sultan Butti Bin Mejren, Director-General of the Land Department, told XPRESS: "If there is an active owners' association, they can resolve many issues relating to service charges and facilities on offer. Developers must encourage the setting up of owners' associations."