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Removal men in Dubai Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan, Gulf News

Dubai: UAE residents with new and near expiring lease contracts are in a quandary as they are not sure if they can move house during the current 24-hour sterilisation programme in Dubai.

Take the case of an Indian expat, Ajay Thomas, living in a one-bedroom apartment in Mankhool. Ajay is paying Dh60,000 rent per annum, his contract is expiring on April 30 and he has short-listed a one-bedroom unit in Karama for a lower rent of Dh55,000 per annum.

“It is a money saver for me and I really like the new unit I have seen. I want to shift, but I am not sure whether there are permits that allow a resident to move house now.

“I contacted a couple of moving companies and they have given me a mixed feedback with regards to procuring necessary permits. Some say they obtain this from the government website, while others say they are not able to do so. Owing to this confusion, I have put away the idea of shifting as of now.”

Another western expat, Charles Hamilton, said he has done the same. “Instead I have negotiated a short-term rental renewal for three months, hoping that the coronavirus situation in the UAE improves by then. Some moving companies say they have the permits to shift furniture and personal belongs, others say they don’t. I am not sure if I sign up with a company which says they can move my things as I don’t want to go against the law. I just want to be sure of the situation before I take a step like this.”

John Stevens, Managing Director of Asteco Property Management said: “If a potential tenant has found a new apartment and wants to move, there is nothing stopping them from the tenancy contract point of view. Tenancy contracts are being signed, deals are still being concluded. We, in fact, renewed 150 tenancy contracts on just one day. These are long-term renewals for a year.”

Dubai Investment Properties (DIP LLC), a semi-government property entity in the emirate said the company has been inundated with several such enquiries from existing tenants asking about the rules regarding shifting homes in the current scenario. Ziad Al Tamimi, Property and Leasing Manager at DIP LLC said: “I believe that if all permits are in place, there is no stopping anyone from shifting. But we are getting a feedback from tenants who say not all moving companies have been able to procure permits for this.”

Orbit Movers International is one such company which has been unsuccessful. “Up until two days ago I was able to download the permit from the Dubai Police website for relocating personal belongings. But since the past two days, this category has been missing on the Dubai Police website. We are not sure if it is a system change but we were forced to cancel work these last two days,” said Zaheer Asfi, the company’s General Manager.

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Zaheer Asfi Image Credit: Supplied

Following a Gulf News enquiry, Dubai Police said it is possible for residents to shift homes, as long as they follow the guidelines and have all necessary permits in place.

“Residents need to apply for a permit on the Dubai Police website. If residents are using licensed movers, then the company is responsible to procure all necessary permits. The resident will then have to apply for a permit only for themselves,” a Dubai Police official said.

Paulina Solis, 37, from Mexico, was moving house from Dubai Marina to Greens, just 15 minutes away, on the day the 24-hour sterilisaton programme started.

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Paulina Solis with family Image Credit: Supplied

“They announced it late at night and we were due to move the next morning,” she said. “At 7.30am the moving company called us and said they couldn’t do it due to the announcement. This left us in our old house with no electricity, water or internet, and we had to pay by the day to stay there over our contract. We also started unpacking because we didn’t know how long we would be there. Luckily the moving company obtained a permit the very next day and we obtained permits ourselves to go out. Due to only three people being allowed in a car however, we had to do it in two trips as we are a family of four.”

Although she says they didn’t face any hurdles thereafter, she said the stress of moving house was made even worse.

Indian expat seeks a rent free extension of her expired lease

A jobless Indian expat living in Dubai is seeking a rent free extension of her expired tenancy contract for two months owing to a financial distress she is facing amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Rutavi Ashok Mehta, 31, in a desperate plea for help, said in an interview to Gulf News, she is looking for relief – what with her being stuck in the UAE - unable to return home, following suspension of flights from here and a lockdown put in place in India, her home-country.

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Rutavi Mehta Image Credit: Supplied

Mehta – who worked as head of marketing for a private company in Dubai – said she was terminated from her job in January this year. She did find another job, but, only to be made redundant again, thanks to the worsening COVID-19 situation.

She lives in a studio apartment in Dubai paying a yearly rent of Dh35,000 (around Dh2,900 a month).

In an email to her landlord, Mehta said: “..The UAE government is waiving off rentals… this as a special request and extend it for me free of cost since I have been a good tenant. Losing my job to this virus has also been a big hit to my current situation…”.

Gulf News contacted her landlord, and an email response read: “The property manager has been following the tenant’s situation, and is working closely to seek a fair solution. We can confirm no eviction notice has been issued nor has the tenant been asked to vacate the premises. The situation is currently being investigated further and will be resolved in close coordination with the tenant.”