|08 September, 2019

Dubai holiday home operators seek level-playing field

Homeowners operating their apartments and villas as holiday homes are requested to cease such activities before September 19

Image used for illustrative purpose. The Burj Khalifa is seen from Al Qasr hotel in the Old Town in downtown Dubai

Image used for illustrative purpose. The Burj Khalifa is seen from Al Qasr hotel in the Old Town in downtown Dubai

REUTERS/Jumana El-Heloueh

The holiday home operators in Dubai are seeking an amicable solution to Emaar properties' decision to shut operations by holiday homes in Downtown Dubai by September 19.

The order states that existing holiday homes operators and units will be considered invalid with effect from the mentioned date and no new holiday home operations will be permitted. The general notice - issued on September 4 - to residents further states that homeowners operating their apartments and villas as holiday homes are requested to cease such activities before September 19.

Emaar's notice has not been received well in the industry as they were taken by surprise and it will impact other holiday home operators in Downtown.

Firas Al Msaddi, chief executive officer, Fam Properties and Fam Living, said the challenge with this statement is that, for holiday homes operators to start with, many of them have rented the apartments from landlords and they are subleasing the apartments by using short-term rentals (holiday homes).

"They have rented apartments for a year, 6 months, 8 months and so they still have a long period to go. I think the enforcement or the way Emaar wants to implement and enforce this new rule, is not really practical. Because if a holiday home company rented from a landlord, what are they going to do if they can't rent the place anymore. They surely cannot live in 10 apartments."

Al Msaddi further said the statement came in line with Emaar announcing their new projects Ease by Emaar, which is a holiday home project. "I think it's great for their project, great for them. I know that the community management in Emaar and the sales operation in Emaar probably two completely different units, but I think the timing might be mis-perceived by many people in the market.

"Of course, now it is a very big advantage for those who invest in Ease and those who are actually after holiday-home apartments because the entire tower is built from scratch to operate on short-term rental. This is great because no one is going to take this licence from, as compared to someone who bought one apartment in downtown from Emaar and now they can't do the holiday-home business."

Khurram Shroff, chairman IBC Group & Gallery Suites, said the Dubai administration has an enviable record in promoting economic activity through proactive legislation and insightful measures. "The recent news of reservations expressed by host communities, regarding issues such as disruption of neighbourhood peace or compromised security, is something that cannot be taken lightly. And for their part, holiday home operators should take cognizance of the same, and work with the said authorities to develop a mutually agreeable framework to govern and manage the sector better. There is room to address the concerns of all stakeholders, within a unanimously agreed regulatory framework.

"I'm confident that a satisfactory middle-ground can be found, through active engagement between administrative bodies, local communities and master-developers, without the need to place restrictions on the market," he said.

Industry experts disclose that it is Dubai Tourism, which decides where the holiday homes can operate and issues a unit permit specific for the property.

Vinayak Mahtani, chief executive officer bnbme, said Emaar is not the governing body to decide on where holiday homes are permitted in Dubai.

"The announcement doesn't hold any legal grounds and we will follow what Dubai Tourism tells us to do. If Emaar's aim was to improve the living standard in the community, then a discussion with holiday home owning companies should have taken place. I believe all of us are willing to sit around a table and reach a conclusion which is fair for all sides. We are in favour of tightening regulations to ensure a better community".

Emaar didn't respond to Khaleej Times mail at the time of filing this report.- sandhya@khaleejtimes.com


Sandhya D'Mello

Journalist. Period. My interests are Economics, Finance and Information Technology. Prior to joining Khaleej Times, I have worked with some leading publications in India, including the Economic Times.


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