New property scam engulfs Dubai tenants

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4225279230Dubai: A new alleged rent scam has hit scores of companies paying for staff accommodation in Dubai, with the alleged perpetrators vanishing with huge sums of money, Gulf News has learnt.

A number of would-be tenants said a Dubai-registered technical services firm and an International City-based property agency posed as both broker and sub-lessor of at least two shared accommodations in the Al Quoz area.

The firm also allegedly duped the accommodations’ landlord by posing as the tenant and providing rent cheques worth hundreds of thousands of dirhams that recently bounced.

Meanwhile, the firm cashed rent cheques, security deposits, commissions and booking amounts for the accommodations — renting out the same rooms to different would-be tenants in some cases.

A partner of the firm, who signed as landlord in the tenancy contracts, is unreachable and his whereabouts are unknown, the clients and landlord said. The firm’s Dubai offices are closed and so is the International City property agency that the partner allegedly identified as his broker for the rooms.

The reported tactics are almost identical to multimillion-dirham property fraud allegations that have rocked dozens of tenants and landlords over recent months.

A representative of the landlord, who did not want to be named, said 33 companies have been affected in two of the buildings the accused had leased.

“They [the firm] told us they needed the labour accommodations for their ‘sister concerns’,” the representative said.
“We checked their documents, and they appeared to be a large company in the electromechanical sector, with business interests in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

They said the accommodations were for their own use. Had the deal been for outsourcing or subletting, it would have been a completely different story.

“We have incurred a loss of hundreds of thousands of dirhams in bounced cheques. A legal notice has been served to them.”
Tenants, meanwhile, said they have filed complaints at Bur Dubai police station. Some paid half-year rents upfront and have requested their banks to stop the cashing of remaining post-dated cheques.

The alleged conmen have reportedly fled without providing valid tenancy contracts. Some companies’ employees told Gulf News they were duped into signing duplicate contracts and were promised the original registered ones before the accused fraudsters allegedly went into hiding, in the last few days of 2012.

The would-be tenants have now been left in legal limbo with apparently invalid contracts and an accommodation without cleaners, security guards or facilities management.

“When we went to the accommodation to receive the keys, we found out someone else was moving in and the accommodation was in a big mess,” said the managing director of City Palace Furniture, one of the companies affected.
The landlord’s representative said: “We’re trying to work out the best solution for everyone. We’re doing whatever we can to negotiate with the victims. They had ‘rented’ out the rooms for about Dh1,000 instead of the going rate of about Dh1,500-Dh2,000 per month.

“When people see a cheap deal, they often jump on it without checking the paperwork. They should see if something’s fishy. Now, there’s no valid tenancy contract for them. The cases range from a single room to 20 rooms at a time. So far, about 27 ‘tenants’ have complained to us, and many have filed a police complaint also.”

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