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.
By Elsa Baxter
Sun 25 Oct 2009 12:31 PM

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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