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Abu Dhabi announces new housing policy
21 July 2010
MENAFN - Khaleej Times

In a major policy shift, the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) has stipulated that the middle income units in the multi-unit residential buildings in the Capital will be rented out for a minimum period of 10 years.

The middle-income rental housing policy, announced by the UPC in a press release here on Tuesday, also directs that such multi-unit residential buildings being built by developers as part of the planned developments in Abu Dhabi will have to allocate 20 per cent of the residential gross floor area (GFA) to the middle income group.

A spokesman for the UPC told Khaleej Times that the new policy would be implemented from this month.

The policy will not be applicable to the component of a development that consists of single family structures like town homes and villas, the release said.

According to legal experts under the current laws in Abu Dhabi, the tenancy contracts have a validity period of five years. But the tenant has to renew the contract and give a five per cent increase on the rent prices every year .

"The newly introduced policy will apply to rental accommodations for middle income earners for whom the rents will be set at approximately 35 per cent of the total annual household income," the release said.

Asked whether the UPC has set an income bracket to define the middle income groups, the spokesman said: "The master developer or management company must initially verify the income to determine eligibility. The UPC is currently working with the Abu Dhabi Municipality on the monitoring and enforcement of the programme."

Asked whether the new policy will be applicable to the existing buildings, the spokesman said, "Right now, this is applicable to developer driven plan districts over 75,000sq.m., such as Yas, Reem, Lulu, and Saadiyat. Eventually, such units should be available throughout the city."

The new policy has mandated the minimum floor areas for various accommodation options like studio, one bedroom, two bedrooms and three plus bedrooms at 40, 50, 70 and 90sqm, in that order. The developer will determine the distribution of units within a development, which can either be distributed within buildings or located within a purpose built building, the release said.

"At UPC we consider the provision of quality affordable housing to retain and attract skilled professional workers as an important social component in the long term strategic development of Abu Dhabi. It contributes towards the development of a well balanced urban environment that will enhance the lifestyle component in Abu Dhabi, the release said quoting Falah Al Ahbabi, General Manager Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council.

"We are confident that the comprehensive implementation of this policy will prove to be a significant milestone towards creating requisite affordable housing options for the residents of Abu Dhabi,! he said.

The Real Estate Forecast Study recently unveiled by the UPC had said earlier that the Abu Dhabi residential market is currently experiencing a shortage in the supply of residential units to meet the demands of the current population. The shortage was particularly acute for the lower income brackets which have resulted in a significant degree of sharing of housing units.

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