Rationalising irrational rent hikes in Ajman

Rationalising irrational rent hikes in Ajman

About 90 families living in a building in Ajman have been asked to vacate before the completion of three years.

By Afkar Abdullah, Ahmed Shabaan & Alaa Ali

Published: Mon 26 May 2014, 8:45 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Apr 2015, 1:27 PM

Khaleej Times analyses the different ways employed by landlords to evict tenants to rent out units for higher amounts

House rents have shot up dramatically in Ajman as the country has started experiencing a boom. The hike in rents has been attributed to the demand of residential units. The landlords and real estate brokers have taken advantage of this with astronomical rent hikes.

Landlords are resorting to unconvincing excuses to push tenants out of residential buildings to rent it out at higher amounts.

Occupants of a 15-storey building in Al Nuamiya area in Ajman said they felt helpless after they were notified a week ago by their management that their tenancy contract would not be renewed after its expiry four months later.

Tenants said they are yet to complete their three-year period, during which landlords are not allowed to hike rents or ask tenants to vacate.

The eviction notice, written in Arabic and English, a copy of which Khaleej times has, tells tenants that “they have to understand the situation and cooperate with the management of the tower and leave their flats upon expiry of their contracts”, which are mostly due in October this year. To force the tenants out of the 90 apartments in the building, the management has cited the exorbitant high costs of diesel that fuels the tower’s electricity.

Tenants react&Khaleej Times spoke with some tenants to get their reactions regarding the eviction notice.

Umm Radwa, an Egyptian housewife, said: “Giving unconvincing reasons to evict us from our flats is not acceptable at all. This is a new building, which was first offered for residential purposes in October 2012, during which we rented a one-bedroom flat.

“We have not completed our legal protection term, which, according to my knowledge, is three years. Evicting tenants like this to let them out again for double rent is not good. High diesel cost is not that strong a reason to inform nearly 90 families to leave their flats.”

She said she enrolled her child at a nearby school. “Where will we shift to? My contract will expire in October which is when the new academic year will have commenced.

“I call upon the competent bodies in Ajman to help us in our agony.”

John Celetus, an Indian tenant at the building, said he has a two-bedroom flat. “It does not make any sense to evict tenants who have not completed three years here.”

Abu Karam, a Jordanian tenant, said he would not move out of his flat until he receives a formal written eviction order from government or the body concerned.

Osama Al Qaraan, another Jordanian, said: “If the law states that I have to move out under such circumstances, I shall, otherwise, I shan’t.”

Ways to hike rents&The first way is to charge additional amount for parking spaces, as explained by Abu Omar, a resident at the New Industrial area, Ajman and Abu Mohammed, a resident of Al Nuaimiya area.

The second way is to increase the rate of electricity in buildings powered by diesel generators, as informed by Othman M., Sudanese residing close to Etihad cooperative society. “We used to pay 0.35 Fils per kilowatt because we do not have municipality power supply, but the landlord raised the same to 0.40 Fils/kw three months ago.”

Abu Sultan, a Syrian, said his landlord hiked the electricity rate and also set 0.50 Fils/kw as minimum charge, and enforced a new slab charge system just like the municipality. “The more electricity a tenant uses, even during the sweltering summer months, the higher slab he is charged ... This is much higher than the FEWA rate.”

Another common method employed to evict tenants is by cutting off power supply, while yet another method is refusal to do maintenance. “Some property agents request fees for maintenance,” Abu Sajjad, an Iraqi, said.

Mustafa M, a Pakistani, said his landlord provides very poor maintenance. “When I refused the rent hike, he threatened to evict me, and stopped providing maintenance.”

Another method employed is making tenants pay the rent in full. “I used to pay the annual rent in cheques in four installments, but now my landlord wants the whole rent,” a tenant said.

Nader Abdullah, a Jordanian, said his landlord asked for Dh1,500 for renewing the tenancy contract. “He even postponed the tenancy contract renewal on purpose.”

Real estate agents explain&Sameer M, a property agent, said the market is based on supply and demand. “We are not even hiking rents like others. We only hiked the rent by 20 per cent as instructed, but the ... parking ... is not included in the annual rent anymore.”

Eng Yasser, another property agent, explained the slab system for electricity. “This is to compensate the excessive costs we are paying for diesel during summer months. We are spending Dh6,000 for diesel every day.”

Abu Rawan, a Palestinian property agent of Al Diwan Real Estate Company, said they added some extra terms on the formal tenancy contract to protect the landlord’s rights. “Some tenants damage everything from windows to doors, and even water and electricity supplies.” news@khaleejtimes.com

An aerial view of the new Industrial Area in Ajman (used for illustrative purpose only). — KT file photo

Officials warn landlords to abide by the law

Officials at the Tenancy Dispute Committee of the Ajman Municipality said landlords must abide by the tenancy law that stipulates that they should increase rent for new tenant only after completion of three years.

The hike should not exceed 20 percent and the landlords must provide periodical maintenance to the unit and should not ask the tenants to bear the cost of the maintenance.

The landlords are not allowed to ask the tenants to evacuate the rented unit before the expiry of the lease. The tenants must approach the municipality to file complaints against the owners who ask them to evacuate the buildings.

The committee would review the cases filed and if the landlord is found guilty, he would be slapped with fines that could reach up to Dh200,000.

The committee also asked the tenants to abide by the law and pay the rent on time based on the contract signed with landlords. 

Yahiya Al Reyaysa, Director-General of the Ajman Municipality, said the committee has seen a rise in the number of cases filed. “The number of complaints filed during the first six months of 2014 is over 1,755, against the 156 complaints filed during the same period last year. Most of the complaints are about irrational hikes in rent and increasing rent before the completion of three years.”

12 ways to evict tenants

  • Illegal rent hike beyond the set 20 percent
  • Excluding parking from rent
  • Hiking parking fees
  • Increasing electricity rate
  • Collecting electricity rate in slabs, with a minimum charge
  • Disconnecting electricity supply
  • Refusal to do maintenance
  • Requesting fees against maintenance
  • Providing poor maintenance
  • Requesting extra fees against previously free services — pool and gym
  • Requesting the rent in full
  • Requesting extra fees for renewing tenancy contract

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