x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

New power and water woes for duped tenants in Dubai rent scam

Many of the Shamyana tenants have been asked to file cases with the Rent Committee and pay deposits to Dewa or face disconnection.

Tenants who had been scammed of their rental fees by Shamyana sign a petition to be presented to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, at the Greens in September.
Tenants who had been scammed of their rental fees by Shamyana sign a petition to be presented to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, at the Greens in September.

DUBAI // Tenants in The Greens duped out of their rent money are facing further uncertainty after authorities said their power and water supply could be cut off.

Many of the Shamyana tenants have been asked to file cases with the Rent Committee and pay deposits to Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) or face disconnection. Deposit amounts range from Dh2,000 to Dh5,000, depending on the outstanding Dewa bill amount, and tenants are also having to fork out 3.5 per cent of their annual rent to file a Rent Committee case.

Haitham Al Kouatly, the chief executive of Shamyana Entertainment Services, fled Dubai in August with up to Dh6 million from more than 300 tenants.

He rented apartments from property companies and landlords from 2009 then illegally sublet the apartments. He told tenants he would pay utility bills as part of the rental agreement and registered the connections with Dewa in his company's name.

Many tenants are now finding that bills have been left unpaid and they are unhappy with the lack of clarity at Dewa offices.

"They wanted a security deposit of Dh2,000 and I paid the money," said Catherine, a tenant at The Links, who did not want to disclose her full name. "They also said I would need to open a case at the Rent Committee and they would cut my power supply in 10 days if I don't open the case."

The committee is Dubai's highest property leasing court and is hearing several of the Shamyana disputes between landlords and tenants.

"I don't want to pay this amount - it's crazy," Catherine said. "We can't keep paying officials, we are not going to run away - I am not an ATM machine. It seems everything is in favour of landlords."

Dewa said all unpaid bills result in disconnection, not just for Shamyana tenants.

"If there is an amount that is unpaid we will unfortunately have to disconnect," said Abdullah Al Hajri, Dewa's executive vice president of customer service.

Tabassum, another tenant, stayed overnight at a friend's home after her power was cut."It was very disorganised at the Dewa office and there was no real direction about how much of a deposit we had to pay," she said after being told she had an outstanding bill for Dh1,400 plus a deposit of Dh2,000.

"I had already paid Dh3,500 to Dewa when I heard about Haitham leaving and didn't know there was another outstanding amount."

Another tenant reconnected after paying Dewa Dh1,700, fearing she could be without power again.

"I went to Dewa to get reconnected but because it was in Shamyana's name, it was difficult," said Louisa, a tenant at The Fairways

pkannan@thenational.ae

rtalwar@thenational.ae