Tenants who have been paying higher housing fees than necessary, can now have this amended instantly. They can also get back the difference from the overcharged housing fees for up to the last six months, Gulf News has learnt. With a new system in place and dozens of staff dedicated at two separate centres — Al Manara and Al Twar — for the housing fee section, the hassles of running around to update housing details seem to be a distant memory. “We have set up this new mechanism in partnership with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), wherein we can access Dewa’s system directly and update the information provided by the customer at the very moment when the customer is sitting in front of us,” Abdullah Hashim Abdul Gafour, Head of Housing Fee section at the municipality, told Gulf News. In the previous system, customers had to visit Dewa offices with the documents supporting change of rent and submit them there. Dewa would then forward the documents to the municipality, where it was processed and sent back to Dewa, and then uploaded in the system. “The previous system was time-consuming and created a lot of problems for us as well as the customers. There was plenty of backlog and complaints from customers and there were errors as well. So we requested Dewa to create a mechanism so that we can access their system directly and upload the data,” added Abdul Gafour, shedding a light on the problems that led to the creation of a new system. Until last year, the municipality enclosure at Dewa’s main office, specially carved out to receive housing fee applications. could be seen crowded with customers waiting to get amendments made. But the new system has cleared the mess up. Up to six months According to Abdul Gafour, the new system has been under trial since August last year and is now fully operational. “There are no pending applications now as the update is done on the spot. Only those who haven’t come to us and updated the rent details will continue to receive the same housing fees,” insisted Abdul Gafour. The system is helpful for those who are paying a lower rent than the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Rera) index suggests for the property or those who have negotiated lower rents with their landlords than they were paying previously. If the tenant doesn’t approach the municipality and update his/her details the system continues to calculate the housing fee according to the existing data. He also said that in cases where tenants have paid higher housing fees than their rents suggest, they can claim the difference for up to six months at the time they apply for amendments. The difference will be credited to their next Dewa bill. As for those who are still not receiving their housing fees with the Dewa bill, the door is still open to register online at the municipality website. Abdul Gafour warns that this may not remain so for long. “We are still giving time for those existing tenants who have been negligent in registering and paying housing fees, but time is running out for them as we will soon issue notices and close the door on them,” he warned. The municipality has been charging housing fees through Dewa bills since January 1. The fee for expatriate tenants is five per cent of the annual rent of their housing unit, which is then divided into 12 instalments and added to the monthly Dewa bill. While the housing fees for property owners (freehold properties) is five per cent of their property value according to the Rera index.