Many single women in Sharjah complain that their landlords demand marriage certificates to renew tenancy contracts. Picture is used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: AHMED RAMZAN/Gulf News

Sharjah: Despite clarifications issued by the authorities in Sharjah that new rules on bachelor accommodations do not apply to single women, women continue to face discrimination from some landlords and real estates agents.

An investigation by Gulf News revealed that though the municipality rule does not stop single women from renting flats, landlords and property agents continue to misintepret the law and make a fast buck at their expense.

Supriya, 41, a resident of Al Khan, said: “After reading about it in the newspaper, I wanted to check about renewing my tenancy contract. I was clearly informed that although I have been living in the same building for seven years, my landlord has decided that only families are allowed to live there.”

“My tenancy contract is expiring on June 30, so the watchman suggested that if I pay between Dh1,500 to Dh2,000, he will be able to sort out my problem and even said that it would be better if I forged a marriage certificate because then it would be more legitimate,” she said.

Gulf News had reported earlier this month about how a number of landlords in Sharjah were creating bottlenecks for single women looking to lease apartments by misinterpreting the bachelor rule. In response to the article, readers posted their comments online with many indicating that landlords were confused about the rules in the emirate.

“I faced the same problem in Sharjah. My landlord renewed the tenancy contract but mentioned that the registration will be rejected by the municipality due to the fact that I am single. I requested all relevant documents and went by myself to the municipality for registration. In 15 minutes everything was done and the municipality official agreed that landlords act on basis of misinterpretation. I hope the misinterpretation will have an end immediately,” said Claudia, an online reader.

The bachelor rule, which was introduced in the beginning of April, is aimed specifically at single men who have a monthly income of less than Dh4,000. It stipulates that such individuals must shift residence to the industrial areas or to accommodations provided by the company.

The rule was implemented to prevent bachelors from overcrowding apartments and villas in residential areas.

In a statement issued by Sharjah Media Centre recently, Sultan Al Mualla, Director of Sharjah Municipality, emphasised that: “No law has ever been issued in Sharjah that differentiates between women and men with regard to housing rentals. Single women in Sharjah can certainly continue to rent apartments according to their personal needs.”

Gulf News spoke to real estate companies, who urged single women seeking apartments to do so through them as they can guarantee results.

“If you want to find an apartment you should go through us because there are many landlords who hold the right to refuse single women and men, because they only want families as tenants. It is their right to choose who they want living in their building, so as a real estate agent, we can provide choices without clients worrying about whether they will be turned down because we know which buildings cater to single people,” said an agent of Al Imad Real Estate in Sharjah.

A property consultant from Better Homes added that although there are no rules differentiating between men and women, “landlords at the end of the day decide who they want living in their building, and we cannot tell them otherwise.”