x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Property middleman says: 'I'll pay back millions'

Owner of property management company says it will repay millions of dirhams owed to more than 100 landlords because of bounced cheques.

The owner of a Dubai property management company says it will pay back the millions of dirhams it owes to more than 100 landlords because of bounced cheques.

MFR Properties, owned by Mohammad Fahad Razaq, has had its company licence suspended as the Dubai Land Department investigates the dispute.

The company, in business since March of last year, managed and sublet apartments and villas in locations including Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT), the Springs, Dubai Marina and Discovery Gardens. It was to pay the rent back to landlords in four cheques over one year.

Landlords claim MFR has been collecting rent in one-cheque payments at a lower price than they had agreed upon with MFR.

Rizwan Ali, a landlord, signed a contract with MFR to rent out a two-bedroom apartment in JLT in November for Dh61,000 to be paid to him in four cheques. But without his knowing, he said, the company leased the property for Dh52,000 in one cheque.

Mr Ali said his first cheque cleared, but the second, due on February 10, bounced.

"This situation is just unbearable," said Mr Ali, who has filed a police case against Mr Razaq.

The company's Emirati sponsor, Usman Abdul Rahman Muhammad Sharif Sultan Al Olama, said he revoked Mr Razaq's power of attorney to sign lease contracts in October, after getting calls from landlords complaining about bounced cheques.

Mr Al Olama said he is filing a police case against Mr Razaq.

A former employee said MFR closed its bank account after its trade licence was cancelled, which resulted in the bounced cheques.

Mr Razaq said he plans to pay back all the landlords, whom he estimates number about 150, within the next few months.

"For some time, everything was messed up; but step by step we are solving all the problems," he said.

Mr Razaq, who was recently released from police custody over an outstanding payment of Dh2.5 million with one landlord, said MFR has closed down.

Omar Khaled, a landlord, said he went to Dubai's Real Estate Regulatory Authority after his third cheque bounced.

"They already knew about MFR and what they were doing, but they couldn't tell me anything. What can I do as a landlord? I have no rights," he said.

An online forum created by the affected landlords reveals that some people have already been paid what was owed to them.

The landlord Mohammad Amin said he filed a police case last week and was reimbursed the same day.

According to a statement from Dubai's land department, MFR's trade licence has been suspended "as a precautionary measure".

"The Dubai Land Department has immediately started to investigate the issue and is looking into the submitted complaints," it said.

molson@thenational.ae