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19 April 2024

Discovery residents face lock-out

By Parag Deulgaonkar

With the deadline set by Nakheel for apartment owners in Discovery Gardens to pay their outstanding service charges ending today (January 25), residents are uncertain whether the master developer will actually restrict access to buildings.

“I haven’t done any crime. If my landlord isn’t paying then Nakheel can take action against him. How can they stop me from going to my apartment?” P Madhu, who has been renting an apartment in Discovery Gardens for the past three years, told Emirates 24|7.

She admitted that she came to know of her landlord being a defaulter only after Nakheel put up the notice in the lobby of my building.

“I tried calling my landlord on several occasions, but he never answered my calls. Hence, I am not sure whether he cleared his bills. I do pay him on time so why should I bear the brunt of the master developer’s action.”

Joanna, a Bulgarian, who just gave her first name, has the same story to share.

“I am not sure whether my landlord has paid the maintenance charges. I never checked when I rented the apartment on whether he had paid or not. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow onwards.”

“The agent, who leased me the apartment, said he had nothing to do with it. He just told me to follow up with the landlord,” she added.

At the time of publishing this article, Nakheel had not yet replied to questions sent by this website.

Company Chairman Ali Rashid Lootah had told this website earlier that it was necessary for all owners to pay their service charges on time for the upkeep and security of all the developments.

According to Ludmila Yamalova, Managing Partner of HPL Yamalova & Plewka JLT, the UAE Civil Code clearly defines that a freehold property should be free of any kind of encumbrance and hence Nakheel cannot restrict one from accessing their property.

This reporter found the entrance doors of most of the buildings to be wide open and no security locks had been installed.

This website reported on December 25 that Nakheel had decided to name-and-shame service charge defaulters in the community in an apparent bid to make owners cough up the outstanding fees.

The developer had posted a list with names of apartment owners and their outstanding amount as of December 20, 2011, in the lobby of Discovery Gardens buildings, along with a notice which says there could be a possibility of apartment owners’ access to their buildings being restricted.

According to the notice, the developer said that apartment owners have until January 25, 2012, to clear their dues.

The notice, dated December 22, reads: “Please note that Discovery Gardens LLC requested all the unit owners to make the payment towards service charges related 2010/2011, for your information the service charge is duly approved by Rera and due for payment as on 17th November 2011."

It was noticed that several apartment owners have not yet cleared their dues. The list of apartments which has not cleared the dues is attached herewith.”

It adds: “Kindly note that service charges should be cleared/paid on or before 25th January 2012, failing which will take legal action against the defaulters which may even result in restricting the access to the building.”

A Nakheel spokesperson had told this website in June that the company will not be able to pay utility and service providers if there are no funds in building accounts of Discovery Gardens, which may result in service disruption.

“As the letter is self-explanatory that to continue the services and pay the utility provider, we need sufficient fund to keep the building up and running. If there is no fund in the building account we will not be able to pay the utility charges and service provider which may result in disruption. Service disruption will depend on the service providers,” the spokesperson had said.

Discovery Gardens consists of six themed communities inspired by garden living, and includes Zen, Mediterranean, Contemporary, Mogul, Mesoamerican and Cactus courtyard gardens.

The development spans over 26 million square foot plot and has 291 buildings.