26 March, 2007

Where gathering is "illegal" and speaking is "criminal activity"

Gulf News:
Dubai: Green Community residents are being threatened with legal action and even the termination of their leases following a dispute with the developer over a dramatic increase in maintenance fees. More than 300 concerned Green Community residents met last week to discuss the fee hike, which will rise as much as 300 per cent for the owners of these leasehold units within Dubai Investments Park.
...
The day after last week's meeting, residents received a letter from the developer's legal counsel, calling the meeting an "illegal gathering." The conduct of the speaker was "defamatory and is punishable pursuant to the Federal Penal Code by imprisonment or by imposing substantial fines," the letter stated. "Such criminal activity will be reported to the authorities."
My emphasis. It's all here.

No details of the "conduct of the speaker" were given, but if a meeting of disgruntled property owners is an "illegal gathering" that doesn't sound very visionary to me.

UPDATE added 10:15 pm:
Mar 25, 2007
Properties Investment responds to questions by Gulf News on Green Community service charge increase
...
Properties Investment developed Green Community to reflect the highest living standards for its residents and to generate a sense of peace and well-being. Properties Investment is very supportive toward residents having representatives to voice their concerns in order to generate effective feedback of the community and services in which they live.

Properties Investment is fully committed to honouring its legal obligations to tenants and to conducting itself in an environment of transparency and fairness. It is reasonable to expect tenants to reciprocate in a similar manner, and indeed the majority of tenants at Green Community do. However, Properties Investment is concerned that a small minority of tenants are intent on conducting themselves in a manner that is having the effect of alienating Properties Investment from the majority. Properties Investment has no objection and would indeed welcome an informal representative committee of tenants to act as a forum for communication. Green Community website also offers tenants an online forum where they can voice their concerns to the Management Team. Unfortunately, however, the self-styled “Democratically Elected Green Community Residents Committee” that has put itself forward for the role seems intent on conducting itself with disregard to the law and culture of the country in which we live.
My emphasis.

14 comments:

rosh said...

Given the lack of details on what constitutes an annual charge i.e. is it inclusive of utilities - real estate taxes etc - not too sure if the charges are legit or otherwise.

AED 30K per annum works out to about $8K per year for a three bedroom villa. I own an 850sqt apartment in NY and pay a monthly management fee of $410 i.e. almost $5k per year - this is over and above property taxes, utilities, cable etc all.

A good friend owns a 2100 sqt apartment in the city and she pays about $12,500 in management fees a year + property taxes, utilities, cable etc all.

However, I suppose the underlying difference is that we don't are not clubbed with a 300% increase in management fees or any sort of correspondence calling meetings by tenants/owners "illegal". Either of which would result in a hefty lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

Hmm John

U seem to be along time resident of Dubai which is in the middle east . Do you think there is acceptance of criticism in this part of the world.

For heaven sake guys open your eyes to the realities. you are in a frigging city where phones are tapped, the media is muzzled.

Do u think the authorities are not going to stand by the company.

hmmm

A Blessing in Tragedy said...

It really doesnt matter where the authorities stand, although people own the houses, the company own the land. if you have a meeting (or do anything they dont like) you are trespassing and in any place on earth the authorities would side with the land owner.

Exactly why I'd never "own" a villa or apartment in Dubai. if the deed to the land is not in your name, and only your name, it's not worth the hassle.

There is/will be (I'm not sure) a new law coming into play that will make developers maintain (as in a warranty) your house for 10 years after the date of hand-over. (something like that... any one heard of this?)

But as always, all they will do is jack up the price to compensate for the difference, but at least in this case if something isnt being repaired the law will be on your side.

rosh said...

"For heaven sake guys open your eyes to the realities. you are in a frigging city where phones are tapped, the media is muzzled"

ummmm are we talking about US govt tapping on peoples telephone lines or Crystal clear ? "balanced" FOX news?

Agreed things are not close to perfect in the UAE - give it time, its just starting off. I agree the place has lots more to do before things seem stable. Laws and rights need to be developed or expanded to protect all concerned.

Please be positive rather than outright negativity.

B.D. said...

I would tend to commend the homeowners for taking a stand. That is the only way rights get protected. People, especially collectively, have to stand up for themselves.

This whole experiment with private property ownership in the UAE is an evolving concept. These tussles are an inevitalbe and productive part of the process. It is foolish to cowdown at any "threat" from those who would pretend to be the power's that be.

Why do you think government has stepped in to place rent hike caps? Because people are complaining. Say what you will, but government in this country is responsive. It isn't a totalitarian regime.

Ibn Battuta said...

One should note that the company at hand, Property Investments, Ltd., is a British corporation! Nothing like bringing "western" democratic values to the Middle East. In fact, the "Middle Eastern" government is more responsive to concerns of residents than the British colonialists. http://rihla-journey.blogspot.com/2007/03/who-needs-civil-society-when-profits.html

John B. Chilton said...

Here's a hyperlink for the last comment,
Who Needs Civil Society when Profits are to be Made?

The comment is much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Properties Investment LLC is a joint venture between Union Properties PJSC and Dubai Investments PJSC. Neither of these companies are British. Ibn Battuta has mistakenly referred to Dubai Properties Investment Ltd, a company which has nothing to do with the Green Community.

fake balushi said...

Amazing!


If an Afghani bread maker wants to increase the price of a bread by 25fils, to cover for the Rent hikes.

The Guy gets hand delivered warning by authorities against the increment. Mind you they already struggle to make ends meet.



But the Real estate, gov depts, landlords, re-creation centers, A class restaurents CAN INCREASE BY 200% ANYTIME, ANY GIVEN DAY!


No one to question them or ask them anything, Mind you these enterprises already make $$$$$$$$$$!!!!!! every day.




Awww.... AMAZING.

Anonymous said...

ibn battuta also forgot to mention that under British property law, tenants can vote to force a change of property management if they are thought to be making unreasonable demands. The management company also has to provide details expenditure/income records to prove exactly what the maintenence money is being spent on.

Rosh - what you say is true, but also remember that in the UK you would have to pay a porter $30,000 a year in salary, to repaint the building would cost $50,000 etc etc. You also can't compare New York, London and Dubai as being like for like.

John B. Chilton said...

The question of ownership is an important one. Property Investment says about itself that it is a joint venture that includes Union Properties. Well, Union Properties is in turn part of Emirates Group which includes Emirates Bank among others. Emirates Bank is celebrating its 30th year of establishment.

Please provide additional clarification or correction if you have any.

Ibn Battuta said...

As per comments on my blog and a new posting, I corrected my mistake about the ownership of the company involved. Though I don't think the actual ownership takes away from the argument that most seem to be making of the right of people to protest and the extent of corporate exploitation here (and elsewhere - just look at Wal-Mart in the U.S.!)

John B. Chilton said...

People love to bash Wal-Mart, but I am happy to be one of those that defends it. It has done great things for lower middle class America both in terms of jobs and cost of living.

There are, though, plenty of examples of US corporate behavior that is shameful - Enron, and the payday loan industry being two.

Ibn Battuta said...

While I've never examined the issue that closely, I am aware of several studies that show that Wal-Mart in fact decreases local job opportunities when it opens a store in an area, has a negative impact on providing of public services, such as health care, to lower income families, plus reduces average income: http://www.wakeupwalmart.com/research/

Not to mention continued accusations of racism and gender discrimination....

Supporting Wal-mart seems to be an example of how "corporate fundamentalism" slips into public opinion in the guise of neo-liberal economic ideology - in the way much of what goes on in Dubai somehow gets masked by the "riches" to be earned and consumed here.

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