The Al Taawun area in Sharjah. A new tenancy contract is valid for three years in Sharjah and the rent cannot be increased during this period. Image Credit: Atiq-ur Rehman/Gulf News Archives

Sharjah: A Sharjah Municipality official has warned residents against signing blank tenancy contracts, which have reportedly been exploited to dupe residents into signing higher rents than what was verbally agreed.

He said the practice was “not right”, adding that the tactic can be used towards dishonest ends.

According to tenants, some real estate agents pressure new tenants to sign blank tenancy contracts, saying they will lose the apartment to other residents waiting in line if they don’t sign up right away.

When their copy of the contract is returned to them, it mentions a rent amount higher than what was agreed verbally with the agent.

The official said: “At that point, we cannot do anything to help the tenant because his signature is on the contract, which commits him to the rent amount and conditions. If there is a breach after a signed contract, both parties — the tenant and landlord — can approach us and we will address their complaint.

“Unfortunately, some new tenants are pressured to sign a blank contract with the common excuse that the matter is urgent and they will lose the apartment to someone else. This is not right, they shouldn’t sign a blank contract. They should demand a contract with the rent amount and conditions clearly explained, and only sign then.”

A new tenancy contract is valid for three years in Sharjah and the rent cannot be increased during this period.

Indian tenant Mohammad Saqib Tamburi, 29, said he was “cheated” into signing up for a Dh45,000 one-bedroom apartment in Al Nahda “even though the agent told me he would give me the apartment for Dh40,000 per year”.

He added that he took his complaint to the municipality and his case was rejected. “I know my signature is on the contract but my six rent cheques add up to less than Dh45,000. That should count for evidence of cheating. Why would I pay less than the annual amount in the contract and why would the landlord accept any less than that?”

Tamburi added he was also shocked to learn that the contract says the payment method is a “one-time payment” of the full annual amount.

When contacted, the agent denied any wrongdoing, saying he had told the tenant the apartment rent was going to be Dh45,000, with a “special discount” only for the first year of the contract. He did not provide further details, saying he was too busy to talk.

But Tamburi said he had been told he would be given a Dh1,000 “discount” on a Dh41,000 apartment “if I booked the same day”.

Tamburi added: “Someone needs to communicate to the landlord what is happening — if they don’t already know. They might be making more money this way but their name will be spoilt because of the agents and tenants will leave them or not come to them at all.”