New expats in Dubai warned over rental property scam

Published:  30 Sep at 2 PM
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New expats arriving in Dubai and searching for suitable accommodation are warned to watch out for rental scams.

The process of finding a rental home in an unfamiliar city can be daunting for new arrivals, but there’s a good choice of agents in Dubai as well as a choice of online classified advertisements. However, as one unlucky expat family found to their loss, all is not what it may seem.

One expat family who arrived in Dubai last March conducted an extensive search to find the right apartment at the right price in the most convenient district. After wading through the classifieds and visiting a number of agents, they decided on Dubai Sports City as the location and were shown an apartment at dh50,000 a month in a block which normally commanded a price of dh55,000. They arranged to meet the agent at their hotel, during which meeting he presented his business card.

Later, they met the landlord at his office and paid him a dh10,000 security deposit, after which the real estate agent gave them photocopies of the apartment’s title deed and the landlord’s passport. A signed rental contract was produced and countersigned, and it was agreed the balance due could be paid in cash to the landlord’s bank account as the expat had not yet opened a local account. The family moved in, believing everything had been done correctly.

Several months later, a second property agent arrived at the apartment and told the family he’d rented to a man named Rajesh at dh 65,000, not to them. Checking the documentation, they found they’d paid the cash deposit to an account in the name of Radesh. The following day, the apartment’s real owner arrived, confirmed his rental to Radesh and told them the man’s cheque had bounced. He then threatened to throw them out unless they paid him another dh50,000.

The family are now totally confused as they’ve no idea what their rights are, if any. The head of the family is owed two months’ salary by his employer and the fake landlord’s office is closed and shuttered. A Dubai lawyer has assured them they haven’t committed any crime, but are, along with the actual owner, victims of a clever fraud allowing former tenant Radesh to keep their money. They’re now afraid the owner will simply throw them out unless they can pay compensation for his loss.

Tags: Dubai, UAE, rental apartments, real estate agents, expats in Dubai, rental contracts, Dubai Sports City, Dubai rental scams, Dubai lawyers, victims of fraud,
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