15,000 low-cost homes in Abu Dhabi by 2013

At least 20% of 73,000 new homes are for middle-income earners

At least 20 per cent of new residential property in the capital is to be set aside for affordable housing and the rent for a studio would be as low as Dh25,200 a year, reports UAE daily The National.

The first homes priced under the new rules will be on the market “probably within the next year or two”, Michael White, a senior planning manager with the city’s Urban Planning Council (UPC), said yesterday.

The council says more than 73,000 new homes are scheduled to be built in Abu Dhabi by 2013, meaning almost 15,000 apartments would be ring-fenced for middle-income earners.

Rents will be set at about 35 per cent of household income.

The maximum income to qualify for the reduced rents is Dh252,000.

According to current wage levels, studios would be available for as little as Dh25,200 a year, and three-bedroom apartments for up to Dh88,200.

At the moment they cost almost double that.

Affordable housing “contributes towards the development of a well-balanced urban environment,” said Falah al Ahbabi, the general manager of UPC.

The UPC will evaluate development plans to ensure they comply with the new policy, in particular that lower-cost homes are integrated with the larger community and have similar access to amenities and transport.

Abu Dhabi municipality will then ensure that owners allocate these homes only to tenants who qualify. “It puts a lot of responsibility on monitoring and enforcement,” said Mr White.

A spokesman for Abu Dhabi Municipality said it was aware of the new policy and that “there will be tools in place” to enforce it. 

The new rule applies to all developments larger than 75,000 square metres, but not individual villas and townhouses.

“We want to provide for flexibility and creativity for the development community,” Mr White said.

Talal Al Dhiyebi, Director of Planning and Infrastructure for the developer Aldar, said they had already included middle-income homes in several projects.

“There must be a drive to increase the delivery of middle-income housing if the economy is going to grow and be sustained,” he said.

“A key consideration for Aldar is the need to consider and assess the commercial impacts, particularly on projects planned some time ago, to ensure that the requirements of the policy are met,” he added.

The new policy is the second such initiative this month.

A joint venture was announced last week between Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi Government investment arm, and Pramerica Real Estate Investors, to funnel hundreds of millions of dirhams into mid-market housing in the capital.

This autumn the UPC will study the role the Government should play in providing homes for lower-income residents, Mr White said.

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