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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Homefront: New expat loses Dh50,000 in a Dubai property rental scam

The family of four paid a full year's rent for their one-bed Sports City apartment with the fraud only realised after they had moved in

The tenant and his family moved into their Dubai Sports City apartment four months ago. Pawan Singh / The National
The tenant and his family moved into their Dubai Sports City apartment four months ago. Pawan Singh / The National

I am Italian-Syrian and live in a one-bedroom apartment in Dubai Sports City with my wife and twins. We moved to Dubai in March and, after an extensive search, identified Sports City as the ideal location for cost and viability. Through online classifieds, we called several agencies and one in particular offered us a one-bedroom apartment for Dh50,000 in a block, which at the time commanded an average of Dh55,000. We viewed the apartment and then met the agent at the hotel we were staying at. He gave me his card, which I unfortunately did not take a copy of and he showed me the documentation.

We later met the landlord in his alleged DIFC office where he agreed to rent us the apartment and I paid a deposit of Dh10,000. The realtor photocopied the landlord's passport for me along with the Title Deeds. The owner then gave me a signed contract and, after reading all the terms, I signed and paid the security deposit. Unfortunately, I did not have a bank account at the time because I was so new to the country so he gave me a current account number in which to deposit the money.

After a few days I deposited the remaining Dh40,000 via ATM (I have the receipt) and sorted out the Ejari and utilities connection. Once I moved in, the alleged landlord sent me signed NOCs to get the parking card (documented via WhatsApp) and some of the furniture (the apartment was furnished) was removed.

Then four months later, another property agent knocked on the door declaring that he had rented the property to Rajesh (not us) and that the second cheque had bounced. I checked all the documentation and found that the deposit I had made was in the name of Rajesh. The next day we met the true owner, whose name appeared on several documents. He told us he had rented the apartment to Rajesh at Dh65,000 in four cheques and said he would throw us out if we did not pay him another Dh50,000. We met him again and he then said he would open a case at the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) because of Rajesh's failure to pay. What will happen to us now? On top of this my company has not paid my wages for two months and I returned to the office where I met the fake landlord and all the doors were closed. BS, Dubai

Firstly there is no need to panic, you have done nothing wrong. So let’s look at the options available.

In effect, both you and the owner are victims of fraud. Your money has gone to the previous tenant posing as the real landlord and the owner has not seen any rent as the second cheque has bounced.

I recommend you file a case with the police explaining what has happened but also go to Rera. The actual outcome cannot be defined as stated both you and the owner are victims of this. The final decision will indeed be up to the judge but I can say that without paying something to the real landlord, I cannot see how he would let you stay on in the apartment for free until the end of your contract. The worst case scenario is that you would be given 30 days to vacate.

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I live in a building in Al Barsha, which is owned by one owner and under the management of a Rera-registered agency. The agency has increasingly leased out units in the building on a sharing basis to as many as six to eight individuals per unit. These single men, and in some instances women, tend to be inconsiderate towards their neighbours, being loud and improper in the common lobbies late at night. As you can imagine this is frustrating for families living in the building. Who are the right authorities to complain to, preferably anonymously, to have action taken against the agency and / or the tenants? PF, Dubai

Sharing by bachelors in properties that are designed for families is not allowed so the quickest way to complain is to inform the Dubai Municipality. Send an email to complaints@dm.gov.ae or you can call 042215555 or 800900. Their website is www.dm.gov.ae

Mario Volpi is the chief sales officer for Kensington Exclusive Properties and has worked in the property industry for over 30 years in London and Dubai. The opinions expressed do not constitute legal advice and are provided for information only. Please send any questions to mario.volpi@kensington.ae

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