Sharjah building sale leaves 400 tenants homeless
According to the residents, the man disappeared and switched off his mobile phone after collecting the money.
Around 400 residents of a Sharjah building were left homeless after they were allegedly cheated by a real estate agent.
Many of them, including bachelors and families, have been forced to sleep on the streets while a few managed to find shelter in the nearby mosques or with friends and relatives.
The building near the Clock Tower Roundabout was sold to a new landlord in last December, as its owner was facing financial issues. However, the building manager, who worked with the old owner, did not inform the tenants about the sale and renewed their tenancy contracts after taking money from them. He allegedly didn't get approvals from the municipality for the contracts. According to the residents, the man disappeared and switched off his mobile phone after collecting the money.
I was also cheated, says owner
Speaking to Khaleej Times, the new owner of the building, who did not wish to be identified, said he took possession of the building from its previous owner through the court. The court ordered the old owner to hand over the building empty. The old owner trusted the manager to notify the tenants to vacate the building before handing it over to the new landlord.
"But the manager cheated all the tenants and renewed the tenancy contracts after taking the money. Myself and the tenants are victims of the fraud committed by the real estate agent. I have already lodged a complaint with the police against him," he said.
"Before taking possession, I went to the building and met a number of tenants to inform them about the situation. I warned them not to deal with the man but they did not listen. So I had to carry out the eviction order through the municipality and the police, who evicted the tenants on Sunday morning."
The police personnel deployed to guard the building said that they reached the building at 9am and asked the tenants who were present there - mostly workers - to take all their belongings and vacate the apartments. "They were given enough time to contact their roommates and inform them. But a large number of them did not come. Now, they need to approach the court to get permission to enter the house and take their belongings."
The police have asked the tenants to list their names and the numbers of their apartments to deliver their belongings to the court. However, instead of doing that, the tenants just gathered in front of the building. Police patrols have been deployed to maintain security in the area, the police told Khaleej Times.
An official at the Sharjah Police said that before executing the court order, the municipality notified the tenants on May 22 to vacate the building. They had also pasted an eviction notice at the entrance of the building. However, tenants did not comply with the order. The municipality had given an additional week to them to leave. Nobody paid heed to the officials, thus "forcing" the civic body to implement the court decision immediately after the deadline.
The municipality, in coordination with the police, have found out that the runaway manager of the building was staying in the country illegally, the official said, adding that some of the tenants also were violators of residency laws.
Left in the lurch
The tenants said they were not given access to their apartments even to collect their identity documents and personal belongings. "Our tenancy contracts were renewed recently. We haven't received any notice to vacate the apartments and don't have any clue about the sale of the building," said one tenant.
Some of them told Khaleej Times that they had to sleep in the lawn and benches in the park of the Clock Tower Roundabout. "We are trapped. We can't even rent rooms in the hotels as our identity cards and money are in our rooms."
The police officers deployed in the building confirmed that they can't allow any of the tenants to enter the building without a formal order from the court, as the "police are only an executive institution whose duty is to execute court orders".
Ahmed Rajab Abdullah, an Egyptian bachelor who lived in the building, said he went after work and found the police in front of the building. "The police denied access to our apartment. I don't know what happened. We paid our rent for the next three months as asked by the building manager, who said he would later bring the attested contract. All the things that happened here are shocking for us and we don't have enough time to look for an alternative accommodation.
Now our primary aim is to collect our belongings and passports," he said.
Mohamed Fahmi, another tenant, said: "One person came to our building and told us that he had bought the building. He told us that we would have to vacate our homes as soon as possible. But we did not give it any importance and continued our lives normally, especially because we had given money to the manager to renew our contracts. He had been dealing with us for many years. Now, we are in very difficult situation as we need our documents and money."
Another tenant lamented: "How can we get back our money from the building manager? We need that money to rent a new room as our budget will not allow us to pay again for three months. The manager deceived us and the old owner. We need help to solve this issue."
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