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Jumeirah Heights residents have aircon cut off for debts ‘incurred by earlier tenants’

Dubai // Jumeirah Heights residents are up in arms after their air conditioning was disconnected because of unpaid district cooling bills they say were incurred before they moved in.

Fourteen owners and tenants said they were told by developer Nakheel and Al Shirawi US Chiller Services that they must pay for district cooling charges stretching back to 2012.

The companies have shut off the air conditioning of some who refused to pay.

One tenant, J C, said his landlord was recently asked to pay about Dh4,500 in charges he said were incurred by the unit’s previous tenant, before he moved in three years ago.

“They rang me and told me that I need to pay the landlord’s money owed and that it’s up to me to get it back from them," he said. “They actually said, ‘It’s coming up to summer and it will be very hot without your AC’."

He said his air conditioning was cut off for 10 days because the landlord refused to pay.

It has been reconnected but J C said he was at his “wit’s end", as the situation was unresolved.

One owner who bought a unit at Jumeirah Heights in 2013 called the situation shambolic. Nakheel is demanding Dh4,000 from him. He says it was incurred more than six months before he bought and he refused to pay. His AC was shut off.

After threatening legal action, he said he did “Nakheel’s job" and recouped the cash from the first owner. But the developer is now demanding Dh2,000 to reconnect his air conditioning.

“When the connections were made years ago Al Shirawi and Nakheel didn’t tell the owners that an amount was outstanding from the previous owners," he said. He said a no-objection certificate issued by Nakheel stated the property did not carry any financial liabilities.

A Nakheel spokesman said the owners bought their properties “when it was standard practice for purchasers to take on any liabilities associated with the property they were buying".

“These obligations were clearly stated in the sale transfer no-objection certificate issued by Nakheel and officially communicated to new owners.

Real estate expert Mario Volpi believed if a no objection certificate stated a property was clear of debt at time of purchase, the new owner should not have to pay outstanding liabilities.

He questioned the legality of cutting utilities. “I’m constantly being told by lawyers that it’s illegal," he said.

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