UAE | Crime

Authorities probe missing rent funds

RERA working with Land Department to glean details

  • By Derek Baldwin, Chief Reporter, and Noorhan Barakat, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 21:20 September 6, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Gulf News archive
  • A firm accused of cheating tenants out of their annual rent money was not a properly licenced real estate company early investigation reveals, says the top official at Real Estate Regulatory Authority

Dubai: A firm accused of cheating tenants out of their annual rent money was not a properly licenced real estate company early investigation reveals, says the top official at Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA).

Marwan Bin Ghlaita, Chief Executive Officer of RERA, told Gulf News in an exclusive interview Thursday that after receiving up to 15 complaints from residents living in Old Town as well as The Greens, that a company known as Shamyana Entertainment Services was not licenced by the Dubai Land Department.

We are investigating the case, this is an events company. It is not a proper [real estate] company

Marwan Bin Ghlaita, Chief Executive Officer of RERA

“We are investigating the case, this is an events company. It is not a proper [real estate] company,” Bin Ghalita said.

Unconfirmed estimates suggest as many as 400 tenants may be forced to seek alternative shelter given that the leases they have signed may not be legally binding.

Before a real estate company is licensed with the Land Department, pointed out Bin Ghalita, it must post a Dh5 million bond as a surety to cover any liabilities stemming from possible wrongdoings and to protect consumer interests.

In this case, Bin Ghalita said since the company did not have a proper real estate licence and no bond was posted making it difficult to recoup losses for tenants who have been unable to track down the owner of the company, identified as a H.M.K.

Officials with RERA are now working with Dubai Economic Department to glean more details about the missing company owner who has left no forwarding address for tenants to make claim.

Calls placed by Gulf News Thursday to the firm went unanswered at the Al Attar Tower on Shaikh Zayed Road.

Consumer protection officials within DED are looking into the missing funds on behalf of out-of-pocket tenants, Bin Ghalita said.

Tenants allege that the company owner asked for a year’s rent up front on properties he sublet and neither the man, nor the money has been seen since. Tenants have complained to Dubai Police and the Dubai Rent Committee and its unclear what recourse remains for people to reclaim lost funds.

The first indication that there was a serious problem appears to have first surfaced, Bin Ghalita said Thursday, when a renting tenant went to the Land Department to register his property but was refused because the events company was not listed as a licenced real estate firm.

Ahmad, 33, an Egyptian who is one of the victims, told Gulf News of the company owner that he and other victims “think he is Syrian, but he showed us all a Saudi passport when we were doing paperwork. We now think it was a fake.”

Ahmad paid one year’s rent to the events company for a one bedroom apartment in the Greens and now faces an uncertain future.

“We do not know what to do, we are not sure if we can make a court case without a lawyer and we are worried about hiring one as lawyers cost a lot of money,” Ahmad said.

Some of victims, he said, have outstanding bills from DEWA, as they paid to pay their bills and the accounts are in his name.

“We are scared that DEWA will cut the water and electricity because of the outstanding charges, and we cannot even pay the bills because it is not in our name.”

He also confided that some of the victims are worried that the events company may have rented the same apartments to more than just one party and more trouble lies ahead.

Ahmad said that after a flurry of conversations with other victims, word among the affected tenant community is that the man in question did not own the apartments.

“Some people rented their homes from him a year ago and before he left, he convinced them to renew their lease by telling them that he would give them two months free rent and other incentives. They renewed and paid the full amount in a single cheque,” Ahmed said.

The victims have created a Facebook page called Shamyana Victims which can be found at

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/ShamyanaVictims

Affected residents are invited to meet Friday, September 7, at Al Thayyal 1 in the Greens at 7pm.

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