Dubai fake property ad scam: Residents call out agents who bait and switch, ask for advance payment

Recently, Dubai’s regulatory authority imposed a fine of Dh50,000 each on 30 real estate companies who violated ad rules


SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Sat 10 Feb 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 14 Feb 2024, 1:40 PM

Property ad scams have been a talking point this week, with Dubai’s regulatory authority fining 30 real estate firms Dh50,000 each for failing to comply with rules for real estate advertisements.

Khaleej Times asked readers if they'd ever been misled by real estate ads or agents looking to lure in potential tenants with misleading social media posts. The poll revealed a sizeable 54 per cent of readers have experienced such scams while house-hunting in the UAE. Out of more than 2,800 responses, 611 said they were lured by ads listing houses that were either unavailable or already taken. Meanwhile, 920 said agents had posted fake photos of attractive homes, but the 'reality was very different'. The remaining 45 per cent said that they had, thankfully, not had such an experience.

When Mohammed Nael, a Jordanian national was on the hunt for a new home, he explored various sites. But when he physically went to see a place, it was not the one shown in the picture online.

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“I really liked the room which I saw online. When the real estate agent showed me a couple of properties, I asked him if I can see the one which he had posted the photo about. He said that the room has been occupied and is no longer available,” said Mohammed.

Similar listings by other agents

Confused with what was happening, he checked other properties online and found that many real estate agents were posting photos of flats that were very attractive, but were completely different in reality.

“I wanted to check other places and got a few agents' numbers. I found that real estate agents are luring people with attractive photos. One agent even promised for a property that he listed on one of the social media sites, and asked an advance for it. But that made me suspicious,” said Mohammed.

Regulations by the authorities

The Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera), the regulatory arm of the Dubai Land Department (DLD), established terms and conditions to govern advertisements and curb negative practices within the industry.

The authority asks all companies in the real estate market to adhere to advertisement rules and provide accurate and correct information to customers by obtaining advertising licenses.

Rera also said that it is obligatory to include a QR code to enable investors to identify and verify all associated property data advertised. Authorities in Dubai have asked property firms time and again to strictly follow rules related to advertisements to ensure transparency.

Satisfactory apartment only in pictures

A similar situation was encountered by Faris bin Hamdan, a Syrian national who was looking for a flat in November last year. “I joined a developer last October and wanted to settle my family in Dubai. I checked a couple of 1 BHK, but none matched the photos which the agent had posted,” said Hamdan.

“After a few months in the company, I realised that these practices are followed by agents to get the customer to meet them and then convince them to rent out a flat,” he added.

Waste of time, money, efforts

Some residents hailed the authority's action against such fake advertisements and said that authorities should monitor the websites in order to not waste their time, money and efforts.

Syed Afeef, another resident, was in search of a place for his family around City Centre Mirdif and it took him nearly two months to rent out a property which he was satisfied with. “The real estate agent wasted my time. He posted photos of 2 BHK which looked very posh and had a significantly reasonable yearly rent. The post mentioned that the flat will be furnished and when I checked out the place, the apartment did not even have a door mat,” said Afeef.

“I lost enough time, money and efforts with such bogus advertisements posted on Facebook and other sites,” he added.


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