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Municipality drive against illegal housing

Abu Dhabi: In a bid to safeguard the health and safety of residents in the capital, landlords and property owners have been urged to avoid illegal partitions or additions to residential units.

A statement issued on Sunday by the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City announced that municipal inspectors would continue to check residential properties for unlicensed partitions or additions to existing structures, as well as any violations of the rental agreements.

"It is illegal to erect artificial walls that create more residential units for rent, as these new units lack sufficient ventilation. The large number of occupants in them will not have access to enough bathrooms and kitchens," Awaida Al Qubaisi, Acting Executive Director of Municipal Services at the Municipality, said.

Explaining the risks of unlicensed structures, Adel Hussain, media consultant at the Municipality, told Gulf News that fires often tend to break out in partitioned units due to unsafe electrical wiring and overloaded circuits. "For example, in a villa that is constructed to accommodate electrical connections for just four bedrooms, additional partitions create the need for more connections that overload existing electrical circuits," he said.

"In addition, many partitions are created using environmentally unsustainable materials like asbestos. Another very common problem is that pests thrive in crowded, unsanitary settings such as these," Hussain added.

Hussain also explained that in case of any accidents or disputes in such units, neither tenants nor landlords could be held accountable. "This is because the additional structures are created without obtaining proper documentation from the Municipality and without checks into their engineering safety," he said.

Al Qubaisi urged owners of residential properties to obtain required permits before undertaking modifications to the built units. "It is also incumbent on the owner to obtain written undertakings from tenants stating that they will not change or modify rented units, and to continue following up on these properties after they are rented out. If changes are made without the knowledge of the owners, it does not absolve them from legal responsibility in case of a future dispute," he said.

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