Abu Dhabi to roll out housing plan for low salary workers

New UPC initiative seeks to ensure no more than 35% of salary goes towards rent

Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) is launching a new low-cost housing initiative that will allocate buildings for workers earning between $545 (AED2,000) and $1,635 (AED6,000) a month.

From December, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation made it mandatory for UAE companies who employ 50 or more workers to provide accommodation for those employees earning than AED2,000 a month.

Speaking to Arabian Business at Cityscape exhibition this week, Hamad Al Mutawa, senior planning manager, planning and policy department, Abu Dhabi UPC, said the low-cost housing initiative will be unveiled soon.

“People who earn AED2,000 to AED6,000 a month and work in private businesses might be getting housing allowance, but now we want to cater some type of housing that suits their income.

“We are trying to ensure that the rentals for these units do not exceed 35 percent of the monthly income of the workers,” he said.

The voluntary programme will mostly deal with high-density area such as the North Island for now.

“If building owners register their buildings as a low-income housing scheme, they may be waived from parking requirements and given incentives to cater that section,” Al Mutawa disclosed, adding many owners are interested to enrol in the scheme.

“There are some owners of old buildings who are currently violating certain occupancy regulations, but by enrolling in the initiative they can formalise their situation or fix their units to meet specific government requirements and avoid high penalties.”

Al Mutawa said the move will also curb the role of middlemen who rent a building from owners and then sub-lease them.

“Currently, the owners gives his building to an agent who then sub divides it and does all the ‘informal activities’ within the building. We are trying to cut the middleman, who does not actually invest, but rather creates a social problem by allowing more people live in one unit which puts strain on the utilities and infrastructure,” he said.

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