Saturday, August 28, 2010

Dubai Municipality scotches BlackBerry romours on new housing fees

The Gulf Today, 27 Aug 2010

The civic authorities in Dubai have dismissed smart-phone rumours about imposition of new set of fees on the shoulders of both citizens and expatriates residing in the Emirate.
A rumour was spreading via BlackBerry messages that Dubai Municipality (DM) had already enforced the fees on the citizens. This resulted in the toll-free number at the civic body’s call centre being rung up numerous times for clarification on the issue.
The news being circulated through the BlackBerry device on the enforcement of additional housing fees is absolutely fictitious, said a DM official statement issued on Thursday dismissing the gossip.
“However, the Municipality had launched an integrated e-transformation system in June to collect the housing fee along with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority’s (Dewa) monthly billing system,” clarified the Municipality.
Director of the DM’s Finance Department Arif Ahli had said that the centralised collection of all the charges under the unified e-system throughout the Emirate would prevent manipulation of the utility bills.
“Notices were sent to the tenants to pay the housing fees as a component of the Dewa bills. The system has been implemented by making the public fill up special forms designed for this purpose that were available on the DM web portal,” he added.
All the tenants of non-citizens in the Emirate have been paying housing fees since 1962.
Earlier, this housing fee was being collected by Dubai Economic Development Department (DEDD) at the time of the licence renewal, and as well as through the lease contracts of the Dubai Real Estate Department.
“The housing fees, accounted at five per cent of the rental value of a unit leased or owned by non-Emirati residents, are meant for providing them with the civic services,” confirmed the DM.
“The electronic system for the unified utility bill collection is aimed at guaranteeing quality of work and comprehensive coverage of all tenants throughout the Emirate.”
“The first phase of the project began in 2005 through the collection of fees by the newly registered contracts with the Dewa,” read the DM statement.
“During the second phase, the Municipality worked on the development of the system in coordination with the Dewa in the light of the study notes on the application of the system in the first phase,” it elaborated.
Ahli had earlier pointed out that if anybody fails to register with the new system, the tenant would be sent a final notice asking him to provide the required data during the month.
“In case of failure to respond, the tenant would be charged housing fees as per the rental index issued by the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA),” he said.

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