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Displaced Tamweel residents cry foul over chiller charges.

Dubai: A month after a massive fire engulfed almost half of the Tamweel Tower in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, hundreds of displaced residents face compounding financial problems, including billed charges for their flat's chiller costs, Gulf News has learnt.

A discarded cigarette butt caused the tower fire on November 18. It decimated the top three floors including the building's roof. No one has been allowed to reoccupy the building as repairs have yet to begin, which could take about a year.

A former resident of the tower was surprised to receive a December bill of Dh311.25 from Palm Utilities last week for the fixed capacity charge for their chiller costs.

"My only question is we're not using the flat -- it's burned. It's not fair as we've already submitted for a cancellation [for the account]," the tenant from Malaysia told Gulf News.

Sal, who lived on the 14th floor, said tenants should not be charged as many of them have already terminated their contracts.

"By default if you leave, the chiller costs should go back to the owner as we are not using the flat anymore," Sal said.

One owner of Arab descent said du and Dewa (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority) last month disconnected their accounts for humanitarian considerations. But they are perplexed as to why Palm Utilities could not do the same.

When asked for comment, George Sa'ad, director of customers service and billing at Palm Utilities, said all Tamweel Tower customers will still receive bills as these are system generated. However, Palm Utilities have deferred the payment for the next six months or until the reoccupation of the building.

But Sa'ad said they could not stop issuing the capacity charges as they cover the cost of investment in the district cooling infrastructure in JLT.

"All property owners as per their end user agreements with Palm District Cooling are required to pay an annual capacity charge irrespective of occupancy," Sa'ad said.

For the billed charges for the common areas which is approximately Dh425,000 per year, Sa'ad said: "Under the current developer agreement, the developer is liable for the capacity charges for the common area, irrespective of building occupancy."

Aside from rental and service charges disputes, Real Estate Regulatory Authority's (Rera) provisions are not applicable to utilities-related disputes in JLT because it is a free zone. Rera officials could not be reached yesterday.

Gulf News contacted Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre Authority (DMCC) -- the master developer and licensing authority over JLT. A DMCC spokesperson said: "DMCC, as master developer of JLT, has no jurisdiction in this matter."

Box:

A spokesperson of Tamweel told Gulf News that they are looking into ways to help the owners of the 71 units who took home finance from them, "including freezing the accumulation of profit accrued by our customers in the building."

Last month, Tamweel announced that it will not collect monthly installments from the affected clients for as long as they are without possession of their unit.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Dec 20, 2012
Words:509
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