Evict Shamyana tenants with invalid contracts: Landlords

Landlords demand immediate eviction of tenants with bogus lease contracts caught in the Shamyana scam

Image Credit:
Landlord’s woes: Omer Ghani’s flat in The Greens was leased to Haitham Al Kouatly who subleased it to another tenant xpress/ Oliver Clarke
12 XPRESS

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

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  • Sincer

    20-Sep-2012 13:10

    I thought it was Rera's job to control the market by providing the licence to agents. If that is the case, Rera is the one who should be screening the market and removing unlicensed companies, or do I miss something?

  • Stephen

    20-Sep-2012 11:38

    I am one of the unfortunate tenants and have complete sympathy for the landlord and the sub-tenants. I am astonished that there is still not more finger pointing at some of the estate agents involved as whilst Mr. Haitham was the ring master in this scam, there are other complicit parties in this. Estate agents knew what this guy was up to and went to him with apartments to rent because he would pay OVER market rate and offer cheques without even viewing the apartments...

  • Bader Sulaiman [Legal Consultant]

    20-Sep-2012 11:36

    There are similar issues with a company called FHS. Frankly, the Landlords are at legal fault and must, by the process of law, be forced to bear the entire brunt. It is the Landlords who have fallen for the mischief of the so-called 'tenant' and allowed him/them to in turn cheat the innocent tenant. The tenants believed they were dealing with bona fides 'agent'/'landlord'/'master tenant' and were lawfully provided the keys and access to the property. The Landlords were content to accept the cheques from the swindler and only complained when such cheques were dishonoured - then trying to shift the liability to the true victims of the swindler and, of course, the Landlord's negligence/greed. The tenants must be allowed in law to remain in occupation of the properties until the end of their 'tenancies' - the matter being no more than the Landlord's problems in collecting dues from their 'agent'/'authorised representative' (who collect the monies from the tenants, allowed them lawful access and, evidently, failed to the pay the Landlord. The law is clear of such matters as the tenants cannot be held liable to a Landlord's laxity and/or greed (the swindler having promised them greater rental income than probable).

  • Landlord Victim

    20-Sep-2012 11:26

    Thanks a lot for the advise Mr. Ghani. I have one more question, can we file a case to evict the second tenant even though my cheque is not bounced yet but will be as for everyone else plus my contract with Shamyana clearly states that sub-leasing is not allowed under any circumstances.

  • avani

    20-Sep-2012 11:03

    Normally, if the flat is sublet, the rent will be inclusive of water & electricity. Flat seekers should not be lured by this. Whenever I go to a new flat I ensure that water and electricity will be in my name. Landlords first lease their flats to agents then cry foul when these agenst run away with money. I have seen many times if we call landlords for information on available flats, they are reluctant to even speak few words and cut the phone lines. Tenants are forced to go through agents. These agenst never let us to meet real owners or pose someone as owners who we never know if are real owners. Govt has to do something for this. Make a rule that it is compulsory to handover copy of property title documnet along with tenency contract so that tenant can ensure that the names mentioned are same.

  • Ashok Visweswaran

    20-Sep-2012 10:30

    This is the first big story to hit the news - it doesn't mean this hasn't happened before. A lot of people have been duped before in a similar fashion. I'm a victim myself - having lost a full year's rent to a conman. At least this is through a lesser known Agency. I was duped through an employee of ENGEL & VOELKERS - an international property agency. The modus operandi is idiotically simple. Conman leases property for himself at higher than market value but insists on paying the landlord in 12 cheques. Conman then forges documents, pretends to be the landlord himself and leases it out to a tenant for lesser than market value but insists on a single cheque payment. In my case, since I was dealing with ENGEL & VOELKERS and have receipts on their letterheads, I had no reason to suspect any foulplay. Months of approaching ENGEL & VOELKERS led to no results with that firm completely washing their hands off the whole sad episode. It's unbelievable how a company of international repute like ENGEL & VOELKERS can get away with this scot-free while a poor individual still continues to suffer as a result.

  • Khurram

    20-Sep-2012 10:23

    The best solution to avoid all this problem from happening in the first place is that the Government ensures that payment for tenancy shouldn't be one or two cheuqes. Rent should be paid in quarterly cheques.

  • ahmed

    20-Sep-2012 09:48

    this all is because of (Sood) Riba. Keep your life away from it everything will be safe!

  • Huzefa Diwan

    20-Sep-2012 08:52

    If landlords are blaming the tenants equally then sorry, the landlords should be blamed for not knowing anything of what is happening to their properties. Poor tanents are in trouble and on top of that the landlords are giving more them trauma instead of finding a solution for them.

  • Katie Senior

    20-Sep-2012 08:38

    “You don’t even buy a second-hand car without checking documents. How can people decide to rent without proper documentations?” Actually I have the title deeds, I had the landlord's passport copy, I used a reputable agent and they gave me an "endorsement of tenant" letter from Shamyana to the landlord explaining that I would be the tenant living in the apartment, I didn't to know that the signature on the letter was not my landlord's. Saying that we, the tenants, are the ones who should take the brunt is completely unacceptable. Most of us used Rera-registered agents - we paid them a fee for them to complete the necessary formalities. In addition - the landlord has the responsibility to find out who is actually living in his or her apartment. It's just negligence! In my four years of living in Dubai every time we have rented apartments for our employees, the landlord has insisted on having the actual tenants details and the tenancy agreement would read "tenant" c/o "the company". We have ALL been conned, its time everyone accepted this fact.

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I thought it was Rera's job to control the market by providing the licence to agents. If that is the case, Rera is the one who should be screening the market and removing unlicensed companies, or do I miss something?

Sincer

20 September 2012 13:10 jump to comments