By Claire Valdini
Hamptons launches investigation, hundreds of tenants face eviction
Hundreds of Dubai residents are facing eviction after falling victim to a huge property scam in the emirate.
Tenants in Emaar’s The Greens said they had been left in limbo after Dubai-based Shamyana Entertainment Services cashed rental cheques but failed to pass the full amount onto the landlord.
Tenants claimed that Shamyana’s owner has since fled the country.
“I’m going to lose my apartment and AED100,000 (US$27,200),” said a British expat who renewed her contract for a property in the Fairways in June but has since been unable to contact the company.
Arabian Business spoke to several tenants who had either signed tenancy contracts with Shamyana or rented their property using a separate agent who informed them that the entertainment company managed the property on behalf of an overseas landlord.
Mounir Wehbi moved into his Greens apartment in March after signing a tenancy contract with Shamyana. A broker from Hamptons contacted him this week to tell him his agreement was illegal.
“From what I understand the owner of Shamyana took one cheque from us and gave the landlord four cheques but there was a problem on the payments two or three days ago,” he said.
It is understood that Hamptons, owned by Emaar, originally leased the apartments to Shamyana, though last night the company said it was investigating the matter.
“As with others involved in providing property services, Hamptons MENA acted in good faith in leasing out a few apartments to Shamyana Entertainment Services. These apartments were to be used only for the company’s staff accommodation purposes, as per the rental agreement.
“Following reports of inconsistency, we requested the residents in these apartments to present their tenancy contracts, when it was learnt that several of them were illegally sub-let by Shamyana to others.
“We are currently investigating the matter and will work with the concerned authorities to address the same.”
Around 60 tenants met on Wednesday after hearing about the scam via social networking sites such as Facebook and Expat Woman.
One British expat, who paid AED115,000 in one cheque for a one-bedroom property, was told by a third party on Sunday that her tenancy contract was illegal. The broker claimed Shamyana had rented the property through them for its employees.
“It’s been quite horrendous for me; I am basically subletting,” she said. “The agent told the landlord and he said if the tenant cannot pay the rent on the remaining amount then I will have to move out.”
Shamyana, which is described as an entertainment company on its website, was not available for comment. Telephone calls to Dubai Municipality’s Rental Committee were not answered when contacted by Arabian Business.
Landlord Kelly Cartwright, who rented her one-bedroom apartment in The Greens for AED85,000 through a separate broker, discovered that Shamyana had sublet the property to another tenant for AED115,000.
“They got one cheque but they charged her four cheques so she has paid for the whole year and we have been paid for six months. Our next cheque is due in five weeks, which we assume will bounce, so we are two cheques down with only got six months’ rent.
“We were advised to contact the person living there to see if we could come to a private arrangement if we can, which I think we have,” she added.
Well, there is a lot of scam happening now in Dubai... Some companies sublet the apartment at a price LOWER than the landlord's price, and it is obvious that something is not right.
Sadly it remains "offensive" in this country to ask for basic information when taking a lease - "dont you trust me". Tenants should insist that they see the title deed and ensure that they are dealing with the owner. Agents should be banned from leasing a property without clear up to date information from the person they are dealing with showing that they have the rights to lease. Furthermore, it will be interesting to hear if any of these leases were registered with Ejari - I would hope not - as if they were, why was this not picked up...
One unfortunate part about the article is the following line:
" Telephone calls to Dubai Municipalityâ€™s Rental Committee were not answered when contacted by Arabian Business."
No one issues the cheque before completing the lease agreement or someone ignorantly registered wrong parties? I was sent back by etisalat without a registered Tenancy contract once.
Welcome to DUBAI !!
So in other words, these people now have lost thousands of dirhams (presumably all tied up in bank loans) through no fault of their own AND they are going to homeless.
Doubtless all the usual suspects will show up and reaffirm how jail is the best policy for these poor people when their loan cheques bounce. Cases like this show how jail is not some universal panacea for scams as many assert.
Another major problem with these scams is enforcement. If the tenants decide to take Shamyana to Court it will take at least 2 years to get a verdict (assuming Shamyana uses its three appeal options which are cheap and completely one sided to the benefit of the defendant) where after Shamyana can just declare insolvency or go AWOL. If they score say a 100 grand on the lease scam they can keep up appearances in court for 2 years for far less than that. Basically the interest on the money illegally obtained handsomely covers the expense of delaying things in Dubai Courts.
I extended my tenancy contract in Greens for 1 year in Jun-12, which covers the rental from 1-Aug-12 to 31-Jul-13 and paid one cheque of AED 55k to Shamyana Entertainment Services on 22-Jun-12. I came to know that it was a scam when the owner knocked on my door on Friday. Can someone please let me know what should I do?
The letting agents should be held responsible for 100% of the tenants' or landlords' losses. It is professional negligence on their part.
A bit of due deligence is required. One is paying 100's of thousands and researching/checking the name "Shamyana Entertainment Services " gives it away...its not a Real estate firm. Atleast RERA ID etc...with the current state of real estate everyone should be cautious.