Experts warn against villa partitioning curbs

 26 May 2014 - 4:40


DOHA: Action against partitioned villas would send the rents of affordable apartments soaring further, real estate experts warned yesterday saying low-rent residential units were already scarce.
The experts have urged the government to shelve plans to punish those responsible for partitioning flats and villas to accommodate low-income expatriate families and provide enough low-rent housing units first.
“Where would those families go that are living in these partitioned villas,” real estate expert, Ahmed Al Oroqui, asked in remarks to this newspaper. “They are all low-income families.”
Action can be easily taken against the partitioned villas because they are illegal, he said. “But I urge the authorities not to be so strict.”
Al Oroqui said an effective way to solve the issue of a lack of affordable housing is to create enough stocks out of Doha.
He said apartment rents can escalate further if action is taken against partitioned villas.
According to Al Oroqui, such acute is the problem that not only individual villas but the layouts of entire villa complexes are being changed without the permission of authorities to make additional entrances and homes.
Meanwhile, citizens, commenting in large numbers on local social networking sites yesterday, also spoke out against the government’s announcement to act against partitioned villas.
Commentators asked the authorities to make available adequate affordable housing units first and then talk of evicting low-income expatriate families from the partitioned villas.
Some nationals told Al Sharq in remarks on the subject that some low-income Qatari families also live in partitioned villas.
Some people, in comments to the daily, have suggested the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning instead make rules for partitioning villas, and actively supervise partitioning to ensure safety and security.
“This is better than stopping the partitioning of villas altogether. It can’t be stopped,” a national told Al Sharq.
In comments made on social networking sites, not a single citizen spoke of backing the civic ministry’s announcement to punish those who partition the villas to accommodate low-income families.
The heads of such families earn not more than QR7,000 a month on average, so how can they afford independent residential units whose rents can go up to as much as their income, wondered many.
“These are the people who are serving Qatar and its people. There is a severe lack of affordable housing so where do these families go,” said a commentator.
Some made fun of the civic ministry and said the announcement made in the media is for public consumption. “The government knows that villas are being partitioned for the long time so why it has woken up to the problem now,” asked a commentator. “I think it is a media gimmick.”
Another commentator said he wondered how the government was going to execute its plans. “Would they be waiting for complaints (about partitioning) to come in or would they be going door to door checking?” he asked.
Yet another commentator said he was wondering which law in the world supports throwing a family out of a house into the street.
The government should come forward and intervene and stop rent increases. “In my estimation some 70 percent of homes in Qatar are partitioned,” said still another commentator.
A real estate expert who didn’t want his name in print said no apartment units were available in any part of the country whose rent was less than QR4,500.
One huge housing complex has affordable units but it is so far away from Doha that one takes no less than a couple of hours travelling to workplace and back, said an expatriate who has just shifted from a partitioned apartment in the Old Airport Area to this complex.
The building in which the apartment was located has been demolished.
The Peninsula