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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

Hundreds of tenants sleeping in streets after eviction from Sharjah home

Sharjah Municipality said it issued a one-month notice of eviction but tenants say they recieved no such warning

Tenants of an apartment building in Sharjah take temporary shelter at a nearby mosque after being evicted. The National
Tenants of an apartment building in Sharjah take temporary shelter at a nearby mosque after being evicted. The National

Hundreds of tenants of a block of flats in Sharjah have spent two nights sleeping in the streets after being evicted from their homes.

Sharjah Municipality said it had issued an eviction notice to the tenants on May 22. The residents have said they had received no warning.

The notice was issued after an Emirati man, who bought the building in December last year, won a rental lawsuit against the tenants for non-payment of rent.

He said the agent who managed tenancy for the previous owner of the building divided all the four-room flats using partitions, then sub-let the units without contracts or notifying the tenants of the change in ownership. He said the agent then charged the workers rental fees but did not pass on any of the money to him.

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The municipality said the notice gave the tenants a month’s warning to pack their belongings and find new ­accommodation.

But on Sunday, the building’s 400 tenants gathered outside the nine-storey building in Al Nabaa demanding to have their belongings returned to them, saying they had been told no such thing.

Many have been unable to find alternative accommodation, instead seeking shelter in a small shaded area near by and sleeping on carpets and bedding on the ground. Some sleep in a nearby mosque.

“We just want our belongings and our passports,” said Ahmad Abdullah, a construction worker.

Most of the tenants are Egyptians working in construction, others are from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

The owner and police said the agent has turned his mobile phone off and has disappeared.

On Sunday, municipality inspectors and policemen oversaw the eviction of the workers, who were given until the end of that day to leave the building.

Police said they would not allow any of the tenants inside the building without an order from the court.

“We follow orders and we don’t know which items belong to who, so we can’t guarantee that any of them would take only his items,” a policeman said. “We asked them to make a list of their names, their room numbers and their items so we can hand it to the court.

“We told them they can submit a request themselves in court so they can get in and take their belongings but they didn’t, they just gather in front of the building making a scene,” the police officer said.