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JustHere | December 8, 2016

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Villa-sharing ban demanded by CMC; but the practice thrives as rents increase

Villa-sharing ban demanded by CMC; but the practice thrives as rents increase
Sukanya Seshadri

In an effort to reduce the pressure on public utilities such as water, electricity and parking spaces, the Central Municipal Council (CMC) has called for strict measures to ban expatriate families from partitioning their independent residential units to house more people.

However, due to a soaring cost of living and with an expected rise in real estate rents, many residents continue to violate this rentals and real estate law, despite the threat of being fined QR5000.

According to an agent who spoke to JustHere, Kahramaa issues just one electricity and water box number for each housing unit. It is upto the tenants to split this up amongst themselves. While applying for family visas or employment, this is the one number that they will be required to provide.

Nina* (name changed to protect privacy), a Bangladeshi expatriate resident of Qatar told JustHere that her family of four shares her villa in central Doha with two other families. “As soon as we moved into this villa around six years ago, the rent was around QR7000. So to avoid bearing that entirely, my father placed an ad on Qatar Living and in the newspapers for tenants. Initially our Qatari landlord was not happy with the idea of us putting up partitions in the villa, but he agreed on the condition that we return the building to him in its original state. In the house, it is my room that has a plywood partition and we have turned our parking garage into a living space for our family,” she said.

Nina also mentioned that her father, as the original tenant of the entire villa, has the lease and the electricity and water connection signed to his name. He is responsible for paying the landlord the rent every month, which he receives from his sub-tenants (the two other families). A verbal contract binds the three families as far as monthly rent and other payables are concerned – the sub-tenants pay their shares of rent QR4500 and QR2800 to Nina’s father and he is responsible for the collective amount of utilities – water, electricity etc. – for all of them. She also added that they also don’t share any space or anything else, apart from a common gated entrance to the villa.

Pressure on utilities is not the only problem. Most partitions for these villas are made of gypsum or wood, which not just don’t protect privacy but are also fire hazards.

“My room, which is the only room in the house to be partitioned with a plywood wall, isn’t too comfortable. There is a lot of noise from the other side, especially when there are kids around. My dad initially wanted to set up a concrete wall in between, but that wouldn’t be easy to break if we have to leave and it would also reduce the space in my room, so we decided against it,” said Nina.

Local newspapers report that the CMC has urged the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning to ask agencies such as Kahramaa to stop their services to any residential unit that violate this law. They recommended that a building completion certificate be issued only to lessees on the condition that no alterations are made to the building against the original approved layout and building plan without the ministry’s permission.

“In case such a ban comes into effect, all of us would have no option except to move to a smaller accommodation. We request the landlord not to raise the rent each year, however, even at the current rate it would be hard for us to bear it entirely. My family wouldn’t mind moving to a smaller space with a lower rent,” Nina added.

[Photo courtesy: Origins of Doha Project via Flickr, image modified to fit]

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Comments

  1. Lynne-Ann Abrahams

    Yes, a lot of regulation is required in the area of housing.

    But surely as part of a comprehensive housing strategy? How about regulating the rental market? Requiring rental agents to be registered and certified? Making allowances for partitions done in a professional, safe way? And then coupling that with rental price guidelines? Subsiding housing programmes that will supply different income categories?

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