Sharjah shock. Rents dipped by 2-3 per cent in 2015 but those renewing tenancy contracts after three-year lock in period face over 50 per cent hikes Image Credit: GN Archives

SHARJAH: If illegal sharing was an irritant for families earlier, it’s a scourge now because its driving rents up in Sharjah.

While the burden of rents affects all, families claim they are harder hit as they cannot split the cost unlike those living in shared accommodations.

“This is unfair on genuine tenants like us. We have to bear the brunt because there’s no one to share our losses,” said Pakistani Amjad Ghani, 43, who is staring at a staggering 42.85 per cent rent hike when his ‘three-year rent lock’ expires in December. “That’s an increase of Dh1,500 per month but I have no choice,” said the Al Tawwun resident.

Sharjah rents dipped by two to three per cent in the first half of this year. However, those who are due to renew their tenancy contracts after the three-year lock in period say they face rental hikes of almost 50 per cent. Sometimes even more, as in the case of Al Nahda resident Rajkumar. “My landlord told me there are four prospective tenants willing to take up my apartment for Dh60,000, if I wish to vacate,” said the Indian engineer who has been asked to pay Dh58,000, up by 61 per cent from the Dh36,000 he has been paying for the last three years. “Most people who have moved to my building lately are either bachelors or multiple families. This is illegal but this is happening every where in Sharjah and people like us are suffering. I may struggle to fork out an extra Dh22,000 but it’s not so much of a problem between two families.”

Al Majaz resident Mohammad Javed, 49, says the sharing and sub-letting ‘business’ is not restricted to only families and executive bachelors. “Forget about how they are impacting the rental market, they are a constant eyesore, especially staff of companies who take up an apartment and turn it into a mini labour camp,” said Javed whose next door neighbour are 10 workers of a restaurant.

An Asian salesman sharing a two bedroom apartment in Abu Shagara said high rents don’t bother him. “There were just four of us and we used to shell out Dh800 each. We still do that, it’s just that we have two more room mates to cover the revised rents.

A Sharjah Municipality spokesman said subletting or unauthorised sharing of an accommodation is illegal in Sharjah.

A Sharjah Municipality staff said they routinely crack down on single men living in residential areas. However, many residents said their complaints remain unaddressed.

“I have called the municipality hotline several times and even lodged a written complaint at their headquarters but nothing has happened so far,” said an Al Khan resident.

YOUSPEAK: Do you agree with the story? What are your thoughts on Sharjah rents?