DOHA: The owners of illegally partitioned villas want the government to stop its crackdown, and act only against those villas that endanger the lives of occupants.
Most partitioned villas are old houses of Qataris who have built new residences in the near and far-off suburbs and moved.
So these villas are a source of additional income for them, and simultaneously provide affordable housing to limited-income expatriate families.
A Qatari, Rashid Al Nuaimi, said that he owns two villas and one of them, located in Al Khaisa area, is illegally partitioned.
“The villa is partitioned but no illegal expansion has been done nor has any room been added,” said Al Nuaimi. “The partitioning has been done in such a way that it doesn’t threaten tenants’ safety.”
He said the area’s municipal authorities didn’t notice the partitioning but someone jealous of him tipped them off and he was served a notice to get it vacated in a week.
“I have been warned by civic inspectors that if the villa is not vacated within a week I would be punished,” Al Nuaimi told Al Sharq. Limited-income expatriate families are living in this villa so they need to be given sufficient time to move as they must look for affordable housing which is scarce, he said.
The fact is that tens of thousands of limited-income expatriate families are living in the country and they can’t afford to take independent houses on rent due to skyrocketing rent prices, said Al Nuaimi.
He said a special committee should be set up to inspect the partitioned villas and spare those that meet standards and remove those that are dangerous. “The government needs to be discreet.”
Al Nuaimi said that before launching the crackdown the authorities should have conducted a survey and assessed the impact it would have on Qatari as well as limited-income expatriate families.
Owner families, as also expatriate families, would be hard hit due to the crackdown decision. “Civic officials must also make sure that they don’t act on malicious complaints,” he said.
Hamad bin Khalfan Al Kuwari, agreeing with Al Nuaimi, said that an independent committee should assess each partitioned villa and its safety and then action should be taken.
Abdullah Al Anzi said that the partitioned villas have actually solved the shortage of affordable housing amidst skyrocketing rents of independent accommodations.
Financial expert Abdullah Al Khater said that villa prices had gone up after the government’s crackdown against partitioned villas. He said the crackdown had come at a wrong time — at a time when the population has been rising and demand for housing is going up and there is shortage of affordable housing.
He said it is actually an old law which is being enforced but it should be implemented in phases (from six months to a year) and occupant families should be given sufficient time to move from illegally partitioned villas.
These are the times of economic boom and a boom does throw up some challenges. Housing is one of those and it must be confronted with wisdom, said Al Khater.