Crackdown on villas has little impact

July 04, 2014 - 4:38:52 am

DOHA: A campaign launched by authorities against partitioned villas last month is yet to have a noticeable impact on the real estate sector in the country in terms of prices and demand, say industry sources.

A shift en masse from partitioned accommodations to independent flats and apartments has not happened, apparently because authorities have not yet taken a tough stance in implementing the law that bans illegal partitioning of buildings.

According to recent reports, municipal inspectors have singled out several partitioned villas for legal action, but sources indicate landlords or agents concerned have been given more time to correct alterations. However, there seems to be no leniency at least in the case of portacabin houses built around many partitioned villas. 

Landlords or middlemen who have erected and sublet these facilities have volunteered to remove them or have been forced by authorities to do so. 

The make-shift structures have become the first target of the crackdown apparently because of serious concerns over safety.

Many middle-income expat families and a higher number of single workers have been relying on such facilities. “The only impact of the campaign we have seen on the market until now is that some single workers have moved to independent villas. “We rented out some villas in Mamoura recently to this segment,” a real estate executive told this daily yesterday. He said very few families had been forced to move out of their partitioned accommodations following the campaign and they might have relocated to other villas or flats.

“Their number is too small to have a significant impact on the market,” he said. He, however, added that the real estate market is stagnant at present due to summer and more relocations could be expected after September. 

Several financially well-placed professionals staying in partitioned villas could opt for independent facilities.

“We have a few bookings for flats to be occupied after the summer holidays,” said the executive.

Real estate experts, however, indicate that there is a shortage of “affordable” flats in the market and an increase in demand could jack up prices further. A two-bed apartment in the city now costs between QR5,500 and QR6,500 and even at this price, flats are not aplenty. Most apartment complexes in key areas of the city are full, rented out to companies or individuals. “There was an oversupply of residential space in the market but that is not the case now. Even vacant villas can hardly be found in the city,” said a source.The Peninsula

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