Skycourts residents refuse to pay ‘unreasonable’ chiller fees

Owners plan legal action; Alpha offers flexible payment option to ‘defaulters’

Hundreds of residents in Skycourts project in Dubailand are up in arms against the high chiller charges, but say they are willing to pay if the charges are ‘reasonable’.

“The chiller charges are very high and we are unable to understand the exact charges since the metre readings are not clear. We, however, are not against paying, but the charges have to be reasonable. We are not defaulting… we are just delaying the payment,” an owner-resident told 'Emirates24|7' on condition of anonymity.

“The cooling unit opposite of Tower C is small compared to district cooling plants [such as Empower, etc] elsewhere in the city – leading to an impression that it is a chiller unit and not district cooling at all,” he added.

Residents have been holding meetings for months with the preceding one being held a few days back where they sought to take an unified view on whether to take legal action against the parties involved with the development of the project which consists of 2,836 apartments in six high-rise towers.

“There are over 200 residents who have joined hands and have decided to move the court to get justice. We are in talks with a lawyer and charting on our future course of action,” another resident said.

Apartment owners claim they have signed contracts with the developer whereby Empower will be providing district cooling services. However, the service is being offered by Alpha Utilities.

“All of sudden, we got the bills from this company called Alpha… we don’t know who they are, and also the bills are not transparent,” informed MS, an apartment owner.

Alpha Utilities, in a detailed statement, sent to 'Emirates24|7' refuted owners’ claim that Empower was supposed to provide district cooling services. “No specifics were ever communicated in relation to the provider of district cooling. The provisions for district cooling were an integral part of all the original sales and purchase agreements which were signed by all owners,” Alpha Utilities management said.

“The contract clearly states that the chilled water for air-conditioning purposes will be provided exclusively through the master developer and the owners agree to enter into any agreeents for the provisions of such services as required by the developer, and that the purchaser shall be responsible for and pay for any fees for such chilled water levied.”

Alpha said the consumption was calculated in-line with the common standard practices for district cooling.

“We received a few complaints in relation to the frequency of the billing cycles, which was initially every six months which is a common practice in district cooling billing. In fact, some district cooling service providers have annual billing cycles.

“Nevertheless, and based on an official request from the project owners association, we agreed to revise the billing cycle and started sending bills on a monthly basis. We have also agreed to offer residents the option to settle the outstanding amounts from their first billing cycle in flexible installments.”

Another objection raised by residents was that Alpha had given the defaulters a notice of disconnection in the event the bills were not paid by March 15. On the issue, the company said it was willing to meet the tenants who need further clarifications on the nature of the district cooling billing.

“Like any service provider, we hold our rights to disconnect the service if any client refuses to pay his or her dues on time. However, this is an absolute final resort and we always ensure that we have sent sufficient reminders before disconnecting the service,” the company stated.



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