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24 February 2024

How UAE tenants can avoid being duped by property firms

By Parag Deulgaonkar

A modus operandi similar to one adopted by Shamyana Entertainment and MFR Properties was used to dupe number of property owners in International City: tenants paying rents lower than the market rate in a single cheque; landlords given four cheques that are not honored on due date.

But this time, one duping the people is a trading company (MAM), which is not even registered with Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera).

Last year, a number of rental scams were unearthed, which left hundreds of tenants on the verge of being evicted by their landlords.

Majority of the victims have filed cases in Dubai Municipality’s rent dispute settlement committee, with the panel already having ordered some tenants to vacate the premises.

Though it could not be ascertained if Rera has received any complaints against the trading company, it earlier did issue an advisory for the general public, stating the documents to checked before signing the lease and issuing cheques.

Rera has very clearly stated that victims of the sub-letting scams will have to contact Dubai Police and the rent dispute settlement committee for adjudication. The rent committee decision is final and cannot be challenged.

Rera says that as per the complaints received against some companies that violate the activities they were licensed to conduct by the Department of Economic Development (DED), the complaints are categorized into three segments: the first is renting through companies that are not licensed to conduct real estate activities; the second type is illegally renting a unit without having an approval to do so and finally renting from real estate companies using counterfeit cheques.

On its part, Rera advises people to verify the following information before renting an apartment:

* Check the trade license of the real estate company

* Check its approved activities according to its license from DED

* Check registration number and the brokers’ license from Rera.

* All the above information can be found on Dubai Land Department

website: www.dubailand.gov.ae

*Renters should ensure they issue cheques in the name of real estate management companies

*Contracts are registered on the Ejari system

Emirates 24|7 reported last year that a property management company has to furnish a guarantee of Dh5 million to DED if they wish to offer property leasing and management service. In case of any disputes (read: fraud), the rent committee can liquidate this guarantee to settle claims.

Afridi & Angell, a Dubai-based law firm, suggests the following additional steps that tenants can take to safeguard themselves:

*Tenants should, at least, try to see the original title deed

*Try signing the lease agreement in presence of the landlord and if that isn’t possible check the authorized person does have a valid power of attorney, legalized by the Dubai Notary Public

*Renters should seek a document from the developer or the Owners'

Association confirming all service charges have been paid up to date by the landlord so they are not barred from using any facilities in the building