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02 June 2023

Delay in gutted Tamweel Tower restoration due legal issues

On the night of November 18, hundreds of residents lost their homes. (Supplied)

By Majorie van Leijen

When residents and owners of the 34-storey Tamweel Tower left their building after a raging fire turned it into  little more than a ravaged wreck, they were full of hope that they could  return some day  to their homes. Now, fourteen months after, hopes have turned into despair.

A lot has been done since that fateful night in November 2012, when the tower in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) went up in flames. After the authorities had officially filed their reports of the incident and the insurance company approved the reconstruction plan, Dubai Municipality recently approved the proposal.

The question, however, is who will sign the contract for the restoration. An empty page ready to be signed is moving back and forth between the parties involved. The tender documents and the invitation letter to tender have been completed and ready to go, but a legal disagreement is keeping the page blank.

Tamweel's stance

In a statement to Emirates 24l7, a spokesperson of Tamweel, the developer of the building, explained:

“All residential units at Tamweel Tower belong to individual apartment owners on a freehold basis. Therefore, the Owner’s Association (OA) formed by the owners has been responsible for managing the building since its completion and handover in 2009-10. As an owner of office premises, we are a part of the Owners Association (OA) of the building and have also faced considerable difficulties after the incident.

“Tamweel under the supervision of Rera handed over the running of the building to a duly elected board of the owner’s association in 2010. However, as the OA was not registered by Rera and as a responsible member of the community, Tamweel went beyond its scope to act on behalf of the OA and supported it in its day-to-day management activities.

“This included entering into contracts on behalf of the OA on the basis of decisions approved by the OA Board, such as the building insurance contract. Tamweel has also provided administrative support, expertise and resources in day to day running of the building as well as in the ongoing dealings with third parties for commencement of the restoration work.

“Additionally, as a goodwill gesture, Tamweel went to great lengths to support home owners following the fire, including help to liaise with the insurance company, suspending collection of monthly installments for customers whose homes in Tamweel Tower were financed by the company.

“Since Tamweel does not own the tower, the company is unable to assume responsibility for the reconstruction process. The only appropriate way forward is for the OA to get registered with Rera so that it is officially able to enter into and authorize contracts on its own behalf as the owner of the tower, as repeatedly advised by Tamweel to the OA Board.

“Once this process is complete, the OA will be able to sign the necessary restoration contracts, which is the next step in the reconstruction process. Notably, the insurance policy in place will continue to cover the reconstruction activities managed by the OA. As such, the OA of Tamweel Tower is responsible for the status of the repairs to the building and should be contacted for any further details on the matter.”

Owners Association (OA) stance:

The statement is in contrast with the concern expressed by the Owners Association (OA), which sent out its official statement last week. In this statement they explained:

“There is a hold-up whilst we sort out the question of who will sign the contract on our side. Tamweel does not wish to do so for its internal reasons. The majority of the board members feel that the OA alone signing may not be in the best interests of the residential owners.

“We are hoping that in the first few days of 2014 these differences will be sorted out under the aegis of Rera. It is very important for this to be resolved so that progress can be made towards appointing a contractor. Further updates will be issued in due course."

The disagreement has stretched the patience of those who once thought they would soon be back to what they consider home.

“We have been paying insurance money, so we have the right to expect a result. This dispute needs to be solved,” said Reem, owner of a one-bedroom apartment on the 9th floor.

Meanwhile, owners of the apartments have continued to pay the capacity charges of their respective apartments:

Rera has been contacted by Emirates 24l7 for consultation on the dispute. Watch this space for more information.