Rising rents force tenants to sublet apartments in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI -The sub-letting of flats, on whole or in part, by tenants has become an increasingly common trend in Abu Dhabi.

By Anjana Sankar

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Published: Mon 21 Jun 2004, 9:54 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:00 PM

And the takers are many - both among bachelors and families - as the skyrocketing cost of accommodation in the capital is beyond the reach of many expatriates.

A good number of government flats are occupied by sub-tenants who rent it from the company employees who sometimes stay elsewhere or even share the flat with the occupiers.

Khalid Masood, Asst. Principal with a private school is one among the many who has shared a government building with its original tenant for more than 10 years. "I rented out two rooms from a government employee for a monthly amount of Dh 1,500. He was having free accommodation worth Dh 55,000 and coolly earned an extra Dh 18,000 from me," said Mr Masood.

According to him, there are many who wholly rent out their company apartments for a whopping Dh 40-50,000 as they are employed in remote locations like Ruwais or Liwa.

There are others who sublet their company flats when their family goes back or even when the children leave the country to pursue higher education.

"Both my children are in India now and we no longer need a three bedroom flat, which I am entitled to as per my company policies. So I have rented out two bedrooms to another Indian family who pays me around Dh1800," said Ahmed Hussein (name changed as per request) who works for an oil company in Abu Dhabi.

However Mr Ahmed admitted that his company is not aware and would not approve of it if they find out. "We all are here to make some money. I feel that as long as we don't harm anybody, making some quick bucks is not a crime," he justified himself.

Even those without a company accommodation sublet their apartments without the owner's knowledge to counter the rising cost of living. By hiring a two bedroom or three-bedroom flat, they share it with other families or bachelors who will share in a part of the rent. At present a single room costs anything between Dh 800 to Dh 1500 in Abu Dhabi depending on the facilities and location.

The classifieds of the local newspapers carry daily advertisements offering shared accommodation, lending a semi-legal status to this illegal activity. The advertisements that specify the criteria of the subtenant vary from nationality, region, religion, marital status and even job status.

There are instances where a single villa or a three-bedroom apartment is shared by more than four to five families or bachelors.

For instance, Emma Thomas and her husband - both working in the medical field - is sharing their three-bedroom flat in the Tourist Club area with two families and two bachelors. The two bedrooms are occupied by two different families and the third bedroom again by two bachelors while Emma and her husband live in the hall and the small dining space attached to it. Each family pays Emma Dh1200 each and the two bachelors pool in another Dh900.

Salma, who is working as a housemaid has occupied a room in a three bedroom flat in the Najda area and is paying a monthly rent of Dh 800.

"It is very inconvenient for families to live in a shared flat as there are bachelors in the adjacent room. But we have to put up with it as we cannot afford to rent out an independent one bedroom flat," remarked Salma.

Despite the inconveniences and compromises one has to make, bachelors and middle class families consider shared accommodation a great boon as it allows them to live in convenient and suitable locations.

Ajith Ghosh, a sales executive said that if not for the shared accommodation available in Abu Dhabi, he would not have been able to bring his family to UAE after his marriage. "Though I am earning around Dh 5,000 a month, I cannot afford to rent out a one bedroom flat on my own, which costs more than 18,000 yearly. If I am not able to keep aside even a small amount as my savings, then what is the whole point in leaving the motherland and working abroad?" asked Mr Ghosh.

The non-availability of affordable one bedroom and studio flats is yet another reason pointed out as the reason for the proliferation of shared accommodation.

"Unlike in Sharjah and Dubai, it is a Herculean task in Abu Dhabi to find a studio flat. I feel that the landlords find it more economical to build bigger flats than the smaller ones, the reason why we don't have enough one bedroom or studio apartments."

"Frankly speaking, I like to live on my own. But for that, either the capital’s rents should plummet or my salary shoot up," says Nawas with a touch of humour.

Nawas is living in a three-bedroom apartment shared by two families and two bachelors.

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