DUBAI: Landlords facing huge amortisation payments on units sub-let by Shamyana Entertainment Services have called for immediate eviction of tenants who signed bogus contracts with suspected conman Haitham Al Kouatly.
A senior Dubai Police official denied reports that Al Kouatly had been arrested in Lebanon. Asked to confirm these reports, Brig Gen Khalil Al Mansouri, Head of the Dubai Police Criminal Investigation Department, told XPRESS on Tuesday: “No, he was not arrested in Lebanon. We don’t know his current whereabouts.”
The sub-leasing scam, estimated to have cost tenants and landlords around Dh6 million, has rocked Dubai.
Pakistani landlord Yusuf Cingar, 36, leased his one-bedroom property in The Greens to Shamyana, who sub-leased it to a tenant at 30 per cent less than the going rate in that area.
“I only realised my unit was sub-leased when the rent cheque due to me bounced,” said Cingar.
“Sub-leasing is illegal. The person staying in my apartment said he had signed a hand-written contract with Shamyana. The ‘lease’ covered 13 months. How can someone stay in my unit when his tenancy contract is bogus?”
Meanwhile, landlords said the tenants should take part of the blame for being blinded by the sweet-talking conman and failing to ensure if they were at all dealing with legal owners.
“You don’t even buy a second-hand car without checking documents. How can people decide to rent without proper documentations?” he asked.
“I have a mortgage on the property. I bought the property hoping that my rent would offset some portion of my equated monthly instalments (EMI) being paid to a bank. Now, not only do I have to churn up the entire EMI, I cannot rent my apartment till this person is evicted,” said Cingar.
The current rent on his apartment is around Dh85,000 per annum, while the EMI is around Dh9,000.
Landlord Omer Ghani, 50, leased his one-bedroom apartment in The Greens to Al Kouatly and was clueless his unit had been rented out until a rent cheque given by Al Kouatly bounced on September 3.
“I went to his Tecom office only to find a number of people complaining that they had been cheated too. So I have someone living in my house who is not my tenant. I don’t know who he is and he is paying rent on my apartment to someone else.”
Rent on his unit is currently around Dh72,000 per annum and the EMI is Dh8,000.
“In addition, I pay around Dh10,000 per annum for maintenance. This takes my annual bill on the property to around Dh106,000. This is not a small amount for me,” he said.
The rent used to cover a portion of his mortgage. “Now, I have to shell out at least Dh7,000 per month extra out of my pocket. It is not a small amount when your income is fixed. If I am unable to keep my mortgage payments, I may end up in jail.”
Jimmy Mariano said his one-bedroom at Burj Loft, which was also leased by Al Kouatly, was up for sale when news of the scam broke out.
“My buyer backed out. Now I’m left with someone I don’t know and he’s staying in my apartment. Even if Al Kouatly is arrested, I don’t know how we will recover from all the mess that he’s done,” he said.
The three landlords said they have lodged a complaint with the Rent Committee to cancel their lease with Shamyana.
Landlords must follow a process to evict illegal tenants from their apartments.
First, they must send a Dubai Court notice to the primary tenant they leased their unit to. A case report from the court is handed over to the Rent Committee.
“This will initiate the process with the committee to cancel our lease with Shamyana and have the people living in our units evicted.
“I am very compassionate about the plight of the tenants, but we landlords are suffering too and must do something to protect our rights,” said Ghani.
— With inputs from Jay B. Hilotin and Habiba Ahmed Abd Elaziz