Tenants face eviction over landlord dispute

Families set to find out on Sunday if they will lose homes after paying rent to firm that was not landlord.

Thirty eight families will find out later on Sunday if they are to be evicted from their homes in Discovery Gardens after paying a year’s rent upfront to a brokerage firm which turned out not to be the landlord.

The tenants of building 219 in Moghul cluster say they are scared to leave their homes to go to work in case the locks are changed and they cannot get back in.

One month after paying AED45,000 for a one-bedroom flat to Corporate Business Solutions (CBS) they discovered the building is actually owned by Meraas Real Estate.

Meraas has filed a case against CBS, but the firm is believed to have closed down and the owner disappeared.

Rent Committee General Secretary Mohammad Ahmad Al Shaikh told Arabian Business on Sunday the tenants would have to approach CBS to claim the money back.

“They rented from someone who did not own the property. If they want to continue living there they can deal with Meraas and will have to file a case against CBS to get their money back,” he said.

One tenant said: “I can’t concentrate at work anymore. It’s always on my mind what’s going to happen. There’s no peace. I feel horrible.”

“We’ve got all the possible proof that we’ve gone through the correct process. We’ve done nothing wrong, yet it’s most likely that we’ll be evicted,” she added.

Her husband said: “We’re scared at work that someone is going to come and change the locks so we can’t get back in.”

Dubai Rent Committee is set to deliver its final verdict on Sunday. Two earlier hearings were held on October 4 and 18.

The tenants say they rented the flats through property agents Palma Real Estate, Imperial Real Estate and Homeland, all registered with Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA).

Palma has since offered to pay tenants back their AED2,250 commission if they sign a letter absolving the firm of any liability and preventing any “action, transactions or decisions done or taken during dealings with CBS.”

Sarah Derbas, Palma marketing manager, told Arabian Business: “To be honest, that’s all we can do. We can’t offer them anything else.

“We told the Land Department and RERA about it and we need them as an authority to deal with this. We were tricked as well.”

Tenants said they managed to register their contracts with RERA and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and at no point was the authenticity of the contract questioned.

“For them it’s an apartment, but for us it’s a home,” another tenant told AB.

The father who has a three-month-old baby son said: “There’s no one here who can afford that. We are salaried people who don’t have that kind of money to move about Dubai.

“If there was one alarm raised we would have not gone through with this, but there never was. As far as we were concerned CBS were the landlords.

“What is the process to follow because we thought we were doing the right thing?”

A spokesperson for RERA told Emirates Business: "Tenants mostly use rental companies to rent units and they should ensure that the company is licenced and handles rental brokerage.

"Before signing the cheque, a tenant should ask for title deed and must ask the owner to register the contract with the agency.”

Arabian Business tried to call CBS, but the office number was constantly engaged and the mobile number of owner Alejandra was out of service.

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Posted by: sikandar

The tenant should go to the Rulers Office and lodge a complaint. There has to be consumer protection here. How and why are these agents allowed to operate???. Why is there no control??

Posted by: Hamid

As far as I know RERA doesn't verify ownership when registering the lease, and is not able to either. Because the landlord may have purchased the property but have not registered it with RERA yet. I think the best RERA can do is to make sure the lease is not leased twice, and this is only possible if both tenant try to register their leases. The best way is for the agent to see the original contract and passport copy/TL of the owner and don't rely only on the copies. Copies are fine for beginning the marketing of the property, but not sufficient signing a leas. Also, the agent must verify the ownership with developer and/or REAR, depending if they have got a copy of first page of contract or the Title of the property for verification. RERA can defiantly improve, but for this case the agent is responsible.

Posted by: The Consultant

Perhaps the answer is to introduce a standard, compulsory professional indemnity insurance policy which is a pre-requisite for RERA-registered agents. Potential tenants and buyers need reassurance that they will be protected if something goes wrong. Agents likewise need to be confident that they do not face ruin if they are caught in the middle of a cleverly organised fraud through no fault of their own.

Posted by: Cash Flow Messiah

Pam - You're right about keys being available with security personnel usually, but I wouldnt agree with you on the same for 38 apartments keys altogether! Let's all at least admit that there may be something more than just a broker/agent scam here. I'm not trying to defend any broker/agent, just trying to establish some plausible cause that may require future notice by general public like us. In my opinion, AJ put the example quite right, in his last comment. This event must put all of us on guard with not just agents but landlords alike. Agents take a certain fee for whatever job they do (or not). Ultimately it is our money at stake v/s entities that we cant fight, right? How far do we want to push RERA or authorities alike, to protect us against issues that we end up hastily finalizing? RERA is an organization that is working hard on helping the market mature. We must give them time. As far as the agents are concerned - sharks or not, the tenants are most likely not gonna be able to get anything out of them, besides whats already been offered. I'm actually not surprised that people prefer to focus more on them rather than who they should on, at this point. In my opinion, thats not being realistic. AB, please bring some facts out quickly.

Posted by: A M Rawof

Your article says ?The tenants say they rented the flats through property agents Palma Real Estate, Imperial Real Estate and Homeland, all registered with Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA). Palma has since offered to pay tenants back their AED2,250 commission if they sign a letter absolving the firm of any liability and preventing any ?action, transactions or decisions done or taken during dealings with CBS.?? You may not debate, responsibility of real estate agents or brokers, but if provide option either total ban or liability of tenant?s payment, most agents and brokers will accept their liability., Many of the tenants are aware, mostly landlords are renting out their properties thru their own real estate firm some cases even charging 5% commission from the tenants. It is unusual that, any non property owning broker or agent will show their principal or landlord to the tenant, he/she know, tenants will prefer direct deal.

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