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Friday, September 17, 2021

Crackdown on partitioned homes continues with amended Qatar law

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Housing

Qatar’s Emir has signed into law new amendments governing the renovation of residential buildings, as municipal authorities crack down on illegally partitioned villas that house expats.

On Sunday, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani amended Law No. 4 of 1985 regarding the organization of buildings and raised fines for expanding a home or changing its parameters through drilling or underground works without a permit.

The new rules, which have been in the works for several months, also limit the exterior color of buildings to those pre-approved by the municipality.

Beyond the increased penalties, it’s not clear what specific rules the new law changes, as legal experts have said it was already illegal to modify buildings without a permit.

The announcement comes at the same time as municipal inspectors appear to be stepping up enforcement of unauthorized villa alterations and amid a long-running campaign to relocate low-income laborers from residential areas.

Enforcement

According to the Gulf Times, authorities are aiming to reduce overcrowding, specifically in cases of smaller units constructed in yards or corridors.

While this type of accommodation poses safety hazards, some observers, including members of the Central Municipal Council, have suggested that the problem stems from increasing residential rents and a lack of affordable homes, especially among low-income expats and families with insufficient housing allowances.

In recent weeks, several foreign workers have expressed surprise and concern at the crackdown. Speaking to the Peninsula, an unnamed Filipina bank employee living in a partitioned villa with four other families said:

“How did they (the authorities) think of implementing such a law when the problem remains unaddressed? It’s a known fact that house rents are very high here and most middle-income families are depending on partitioned accommodations.”

The preferred solution, it seems, is to build massive new housing developments on Doha’s outskirts and beyond.

Out of town

Last year, the first residents moved into Barwa City, located between Mesaimeer and the Industrial area close to the Abu Hamour Church Complex. It’s envisioned to be a complete community with some 25,000 residents living in affordable housing alongside a supermarket, fitness center, playgrounds, a large mosque and a school.

However, last week, several real estate experts said that building large developments far away from major employment hubs and without public transit connections may not be a perfect solution, as residents who need affordable housing most typically struggle to pay for private transportation.

Barwa is also constructing a massive housing development for laborers called Barwa Al Baraha. The first of 20,000 expats are expected to move into Barwa’s “Worker’s City” in the Industrial Area next month.

When the subsequent phases are complete, the development is expected to house some 53,000 residents – at least some of whom are envisioned to live in units shared among six residents.

Authorities have been working to relocate male workers living in Qatar without their families out of established residential areas for several years.

In 2011-12, authorities issued a ban on laborers – often dubbed “bachelors,” even though many are actually married – living in established residential areas, although the lack of alternative housing made implementing the order problematic.

The move came after several Qatari families complained about “lack of respect from expatriate bachelors for local values and traditions and menaces to the Qatari way of life.”

Thoughts?

21 COMMENTS

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Firas Zirie
7 years ago

This recurring theme of bringing hundreds of thousands of migrants from all over the world by choice, then complaining about them being a “menace to the Qatari way of life” is annoying.

Might I remind this outspoken minority of complainers that a big part of why you have your current way of life is the efforts of those same “demons”.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Should migrants be respectful of the host country? Absolutely, as should the host country respect its migrants.

Guest
Guest
7 years ago

Absolutely disgusting.. They think thousands of times before increasing wages of migrant workers; then drop the idea. Think millions of times to remove NOC and allow migrant workers to switch job if they find a better opportunity; then again drop the idea. Think once about cracking down partitioned houses and kicking people off; the law gets implemented straight away.

micheal
micheal
7 years ago

We are living in fallacy here in Qatar u could imagine d fact dat many houses are empty here in doha due to d hack in rent goto canada usa china u get a flat of 150 dollars a month now they call us demons taut noise makers problematic we are architect of their good living we work and suffer 4 them they relax and enjoy and call us all sort of names,when we work let’s get paid on time anf reduce d rent rate and u will see all this jingles and monojingle will b minimise to d maximum level

wee_johnnie
wee_johnnie
7 years ago

I fully understand the health and safety implications of overcrowded properties, but before condemning them there needs to be a viable and economical alternative. Building ghettos to house them out of town, and out of sight, is not the answer, as it will only fuel resentment and not lead to better integration of all elements of society in Qatar.

sadam
sadam
7 years ago
Reply to  wee_johnnie

who cares? the government reserves the right to care only for its people.

Huzz
Huzz
7 years ago
Reply to  sadam

Anybody who lives here falls under the government. If it were not the case I would not have to obey the laws of the land.

Jon
Jon
7 years ago
Reply to  sadam

No. Actually, anyone who is welcomed into a country is owed a duty of care by the government of the land (to a certain degree), and then onwards by its sponsor.

Otherwise expats would argue that they are exempt from certain laws for instance.

A_qtr
A_qtr
7 years ago
Reply to  wee_johnnie

Your are either blatantly bigoted or simply unable to comprehend matters. How in the world did you come to the assumption these areas are ghettos? Have you visited the site? Have you seen the quality of the building material and the units themselves? Have you seen the retail spaces and facilities at hand?
I’ve visited the sites a number of times so unless you’ve been there stop talking!

And out of town? Where do you recommend doha builds apartments for 45,000 people and price them below market value? Al sadd? Al hilal? West bay area? How about on an artificial island? Barwa was granted this land by the government of qatar. The government of qatar hardly owns any open space within the city limits of doha, they are owned by individuals and businesses. The land owned by the gov’t, large enough for a complex this big, sits outside the city limits. Literally, a 5 minutes’ drive to waqood round about and another five minutes for al hilal, ten minutes from town center with no traffic. This isn’t property built next to the Saudi border.

Every qatari is entitled to a piece of land. My land is south wakra… 5 minutes drive south of wakra and another 5 minutes to the west of wakra!! With zero infrastructure, cause that’s the nearest piece of land the
govt has on offer.

And what resentment, moving low paid expat workers from crammed houses that are 30 or 40 years old
(old airport area/bin omran), or war zone conditions of the industrial area to new apartments and facilities causes resentment?

Seriously, how you came to the conclusion they are “out of town, out of sight ghettos” is beyond me

KJD
KJD
7 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Sadly even if the housing is currently in good condition some of the workers will soon turn it into ghetto housing. Even if some of them are provided with good quality clean accommodations by their employers, their personal habits will lower the quality. It’s not the responsibility of the employer to clean worker accommodation on a daily basis — that falls on to the person living their themselves, and if they choose to let garbage pile up and not clean things properly than it’s quickly going to end up being a ghetto.
People are always quick to cast judgment on those they view as more privileged, but fail to recognize that people also have some responsibility for their own living conditions.

A_qtr
A_qtr
7 years ago
Reply to  KJD

oh wow.. you crossed a line even I’m too afraid to cross… you mean to tell me that half the problem is the living habits and acceptable low standard of hygiene of some of qatari expat
communities which drive down the overall quality of housing…

careful now… next thing you’ll say its the Indian foreman who pockets 50% of a company’s housing budget and forces employees into poor living accommodations and threatens the workers work, or even family back home…
or its the Bangladeshi workers who choose to pocket the housing allowance and agree to spend only a small amount of it by choosing to live 30-40 people in a rented villa so they can send the rest back home…
you’re not allowed to have these thoughts on dohanews.co.. it’s qatar’s problem for not putting all low paid workers on waab street…

I always wondered why a karwa taxi car (with only 10,000 km on the gauge) is filthy compared to a london taxi with perhaps over 150,000 km clocked in!!! same applies to NYC taxis.. some are spotless clean some are filthy…

KJD
KJD
7 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Haha. Unfortunately for the masses of readers on dohanews, I’ve never been concerned about voicing the unpopular opinion and I am not quick to jump on the bandwagon of condemning Qatar for every negative thing that exists.

annil
annil
7 years ago
Reply to  KJD

true

Desert Witch
Desert Witch
7 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Strangely enough. I’m in agreement with you.

A_qtr
A_qtr
7 years ago

Though the law is now in effect, the policing will be more towards villas which accommodate 20+ men as
opposed to multiple family units. The aim is to start pushing single men occupancies out of family residential areas and forcing employers to make use of the new barwa city next to the industrial area. As more cheap units become available in the market they will start tightening the belt and forcing more people to move out of partitioned villas.

off course villas which are dangerously partitioned will also be prosecuted. Some villa have over 5 families living in them which is a cause for great concern due putting kitchen/cookers in bedrooms/bathrooms and overcrowding the power grid.

many expats should not opt in for receiving a housing allowance from their employers in hope of trying to secure cheap housing and pocketing the difference. they should negotiate with their employer providing them a fully paid accommodation.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Yes because god help us we must rid from site the “menaces to the Qatari way of life.

A_qtr
A_qtr
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

clap clap clap

Dobbin_the_Wonder_Horse
Dobbin_the_Wonder_Horse
7 years ago

Presumably the theory is that by eliminating shared villas the demand for accommodation will rise. This will help to fill many of the empty properties that exist all around Doha. If those workers who have their families with them can’t afford the increased rents they will have to return to their country of origin. Ideally they can be replaced by singletons at lower cost. Positions that can only be filled by employees on family status will inevitably have to command higher remuneration.

A_qtr
A_qtr
7 years ago

their is a strong drive in doha to try to decrease the population size by making it more expansive for employee’s to bring their families. this will drive businesses to seek single individuals for employement or employers will have to pay extra for the head of the family to agree to leave their family back home and head to doha. (pay a white collar western expat an extra 25,000 riyal a month and avoid having to pay housing, schooling, annaul tickets, transportation, health insurance… etc for his wife and kids).
also they want to force small and medium businesses to pick up the housing bill by them stopping the handing of housing allowances to individuals, who will be driven to save money to send home by living in low standard crammbed accomdation.
there are also a mountain of “free visa” expats in qatar who are now starting to put a strain on the gov’t. example are pakistani truck drivers who have seven kids… by making it more expansive they will either decide to move out of doha and qatar economy is short one truck driver who will be replaced by a single truck drive or the man will choose to send his kids back home and continue to work and save in doha…

The Avenger
The Avenger
7 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

I think you’re on the money with this assessment . It’s an easy calculation that the more families you bring in the more strain you put on infrastructure and services . There has to be a line somewhere .

Paul
Paul
7 years ago

Let the market sort it out.. Villa’s were never intended for 5 families or 20 bachelors: it’s not hygienic nor sustainable. I mean some area’s in Doha look like the favelas. If there is no alternative housing, then people will react accordingly and economy development/projects too.

Chilidog
Chilidog
7 years ago

“…it’s not clear what specific rules the new law changes….” There’s a lot to be observed from a statement like this, but I think it points toward why it’s so unbelievably difficult to make heads or tails of a lot of things in Qatar. When moving here someone told me that in Qatar everything’s possible and at the same time everything’s impossible too. Just depends on who you ask on what day. Keeping things vague keeps that problem alive and kicking and contributes to the frustrations people feel in Qatar that they don’t have in developed countries.

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