RERA claims bankrupt Dubai realtor operated after being shut down

Dubai’s real estate regulator says S&K ignored warnings to fix its finances and continued to operate after closure order
RERA claims bankrupt Dubai realtor operated after being shut down
By Staff writer
Thu 06 Aug 2015 01:36 PM

Bankrupt Dubai-based real estate agency S&K Estate Agents has reportedly been fined for continuing to operate after regulators ordered it to close.

Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) issued a series of warnings to S&K, also known as Smith & Ken, before finally revoking its licence and shutting down the firm, chief executive Marwan bin Ghalita told The National.

S&K allegedly continued to operate for another five weeks, before finally filing for bankruptcy on July 21, blaming a deteriorating property market in the emirate and inability to recruit quality staff as part of its decision.

More than 80 staff, in both Dubai and Los Angeles, and clients are owed money.

RERA said it is investigating claims the firm illegally asked tenants and landlords to write cheques to S&K rather than the person owed the money.

“Some time ago, we received numerous complaints on the activity of this company and had been meeting with officials and the owner, and sent warnings several times,” bin Ghalita was quoted as saying.

“We fined the company, but with continuous violations and non-compliance with the pledge by the owner, the company’s headquarters was shut down on June 14 in cooperation with the Department of Economic Development.”

Landlords were often told their rent payments were delayed because the company’s chief executive, Ben Smith, who was the sole cheque signatory, was out of the country.

At least two property owners who rented out their residences via S&K claim the agent has failed to pay them their tenant’s security deposit and hundreds of dollars they were made to pay to S&K in advance for petty cash expenses.

Carlos Cruz, a former lettings negotiator at S&K, told The National he is owed AED55,000 ($15,000) in commission.

In a statement issued at the time of its bankruptcy filing, S&K said its reputation had been damaged by client complaints.

It has not commented since.

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