x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Landlords are accused of illegally turning off power

Landlords are cutting electrical power, stopping lifts and disconnecting air conditioners to force residents to pay their rent or renew their tenancy contracts.

SHARJAH // Landlords are cutting electrical power, stopping lifts and disconnecting air conditioners to force residents to pay their rent or renew their tenancy contracts, a senior official of Sharjah's Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) has said. Ali Saeed al Hadhari, the organisation's director, said he and his colleagues had recently received complaints from residents that landlords were using illicit means to coerce them into staying in their apartments.

He warned that these actions were illegal and in violation of the authority's 2007 law calling for amicable relationships between tenants and landlords. "In fact, article 76 of this law stipulates a fine of not less than Dh20,000 or more than Dh40,000 for any landlord who tampers with any tools or wiring to connect or disconnect power, water or gas without the approval from the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA)," he said.

Only SEWA is authorised to cut electricity, water or gas to any apartment, he said. Landlords had other alternatives to solicit rent from their non-paying tenants, including referring them to a court or to RERA. The same law stipulated a fine of Dh5,000 to Dh10,000 for anyone who willingly performs any act that would threaten the safety of the building or his or her tenants, Mr Hadhari said. "We are not lenient to any illegal practice and we are not going to be," he said. "We ask all tenants who have grievances with their landlords to approach us. We are always willing to help."

Farouk Luyiga, a resident of the Al Ansar building, which is located behind Sharjah's Mubarak Centre, said he often finds that lifts in the building are not working and air conditioners in the corridors are turned off. "I think the landlords are trying to save on power bills, as it has become expensive recently, and corridor air conditioners are on their bills," he said. The watchman of the building, who declined to be identified, said that he had orders to switch off the corridor air conditioners for a few hours during the day, but said the lifts were just breaking down and needed regular maintenance.

Dirham Real Estate, which is responsible for the building, declined to comment. @Email:ykakande@thenational.ae