Move to ease rules on home modifications in Bahrain

Many minor violations occur through a lack of knowledge of the regulations

  

Local authorities are planning to introduce a ‘softly, softly’ approach when it comes to minor infringements of construction rules rather than drag homeowners through the courts.

They would prefer to come up with a ‘peaceful resolution’ instead of referring matters immediately to the Public Prosecution which is current policy.

A proposal to make this the preferred ‘route to resolution’ is being championed by Northern Municipal Councillor Faisal Shabeeb following concerns over minor violations that have taken place in Al Ramli and Hoorat A’ali.

“This proposal is concerned with minor construction violations on homes that aren’t causing damage to the property itself, neighbouring homes or encroaching on public roads or property,” explained Mr Shabeeb during the council’s bi-weekly meeting.

“These shouldn’t be immediately referred to the Public Prosecution, especially if a peaceful resolution can be found with the Northern Municipality as an executive authority.

“Many minor violations occur through a lack of knowledge of the regulations and work is often carried out on decades-old family homes to cope with the demands of housing their growing families.”

He said that discussions were taking place between the three municipal councils along with the Capital Trustees Board, the municipalities and the Housing Ministry in order to amend regulations implemented under the law.

He stated that all parties have agreed on the way forward and they await final approval from Housing Minister Bassem Al Hamer and Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Minister Essam Khalaf.

Those who don’t follow the rules, however, can be assured serious offences will be dealt with swiftly.

Dangerous building violations that pose a threat to property owners and their neighbours are automatically registered into government systems through a portable device used by inspectors.

“Our system is monitored by the National Audit Office (NAO) where they review the licences and the time taken by the municipality to take required legal action. If we don’t take action in the stipulated time-frame we are fined by the NAO,” said Northern Municipality director general Lamya al Fadhala.

“The government has taken great strides in improving housing and construction laws to provide top quality housing services to citizens.

“There is no country in the world that provides the same high quality government services as Bahrain does and, in the Northern Governorate, we are lucky to have the best housing projects.”

She added that various amendments were being reviewed to include in the law, such as allowing the construction of additional living space over garages and developing additional floors, which are awaiting consideration.

reem@gdn.com.bh

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