Talks to single men and women str uggling to afford somewhere to live in Sharjah
Single people on low incomes in Sharjah claim they have no choice but to flout rules on sharing villas as they cannot afford to live elsewhere.
The lowest monthly rent for a flat in the emirate is about Dhs2,500, however this is still beyond many of them. Instead, they choose to share with others in residential areas, even though the fines could be more than a year’s salary.
Syrian expat Bilal, 23, said: “Due to high rents and limited income, I have rented a bedroom for Dhs1,500. I’m paying too much for just a room. It reaches Dhs2,000 with the electricity bill.
“I support my family, who are living now in Germany. With the need to send as much money as possible to my family, especially to my sick mother, I decided to come to the UAE to work.”
He added: “I am considering moving to Ajman, where the quality of life is both simple and affordable. However, I need to live close to my work. Especially as taxi fares are too expensive.
“The policy of shifting us ‘single men’ from residential areas to locations around industrial areas and far away areas is callous.”
However, Ibrahim Al Rais, Head of Safety and Inspection Department at Sharjah Municipality, said: “The rule was implemented to prevent bachelors from overcrowding apartments and villas in family residential areas as the municipality gets complaints from neighbours who are inconvenienced by too many bachelors living next to them.
“For example, fathers who are disturbed by the fact that too many men are living next to his daughters and wife, or making too much noise, blocking driveways... etc.” It’s not just men who are affected by the current rules.
Bangladeshi expat Fatima, who is in her 40s, said: “I started my life in Sharjah through shared accommodation 15 years ago.
“I never enjoyed sharing my accommodation with others.
“The cost of life forced me to live with others. I am responsible of two children back home.”
Al Rais said 2,553 residential violations were reported in 2015.
“The law does not prevent bachelors from living in commercial areas, providing that they abide by rules,” he added.
“The law prevents renting villas to bachelors, and fines can be anywhere from Dh1,000 to Dh50,000 depending on the area. If it is a company using the villa for accommodations then we fine the company, otherwise we fine the landlord.” Al Rais said as much as 40 per cent of residential buildings intended for families are thought to be used by bachelors.
STRUGGLE: Fatima and (inset) Bilal say they have no choice but to share with others