DUBAI // A tenant who fell victim to the rental scam in The Greens yesterday recounted how he had contacted the emirate's real estate watchdog two years ago to verify that Haitham Al Kouatly was the real landlord of his apartment.
Ramy Hashem, who renewed his contract for a two-bedroom apartment for Dh76,000 in June, said if Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) had guided him properly, he would not have been taken in.
"When Haitham claimed he was the landlord, I asked him to show me documents to prove his ownership. He was giving us free Dewa, du TV and the furniture all inclusive of my rent. I felt something was fishy," he said, before signing his 2010 rent cheque in Mr Al Kouatly's name.
Mr Hashem, who was among the tenants who met on Wednesday night at At Tayyal in The Greens to discuss a game plan, claimed Rera refused to disclose any information on Al Kouatly.
"I told them I have rented his apartment and want to check if he is the real landlord. And they said they won't disclose this information. I even told them: 'I will tell you his name, you just tell me if he is the landlord. I don't want any more details.' But they refused.
"I argued with them saying if he is scamming me, how would I know? I was really p***** off. This could have been avoided if they had said he was not the landlord. Or if they had guided me on how to verify the ownership."
Mr Hasham said he approached Rera in June 2010, three months after the authority recommended rental contracts be registered through the Ejari online portal.
Al Kouatly asked Mr Hasham to give the 2011 and 2012 rental cheques in the name of Shamyana Entertainment, an events company.
This week, a real estate company that has contacted several tenants asking them to pay rent, said he was living in his apartment illegally.