Hundreds of tenants in the UAE capital city of Sharjah became victim to the latest rent scam this year. The tenants were duped of their money by fraudulent property agents and landowners that had offered ‘bogus’ rental contracts to the victims. But before the scam was uncovered, the fraudsters had disappeared from the scene without a notice.
Details about the Recent Rental Scam in the UAE
Individuals posing as the legitimate owner of the property had published an advertisement in a local newspaper and social media. They had posted the pictures of the villa and apartment on the advertisement media.
The fraudulent owners had rented the apartment by accepting advance rents from the victims. What’s worse, they had rented one home to several families. The victims were duped into signing the rental contract by offering a deep discount on the rents.
Scammers in the UAE could face a fine of up to AED 30,000 ($8,167) or a three years jail time.
However, the victims of the rental scams will not be able to seek legal assistance as the contract was not signed by the Municipality. A duly attested copy of the rental agreement is important for victims to seek justice from the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department.
Getting the rental contracted attested by the Municipality is no easy task. The landlord has to first register the property with Tawtheeq by submitting an application with the Abu Dhabi Municipality. The municipal authority then issues a property ID and registered unit ID. Most of the landlords in Abu Dhabi, however, have not registered their properties with the Municipality.
Without the attestation of the tenancy agreement, individuals can obtain no legal assistance for getting back their money. The individuals that have lost money in the recent rental scam do not have any other option other than to move on with their life.
How to Avoid Falling Victim to a Rental Scam in the UAE?
Visitors that want a rental home in the UAE are advised to avoid issuing any check in the name of a real estate company or the agent. It is advisable to always hand in the advance rental deposits and other amounts to the original homeowner after inspecting the property document.
In addition, individuals should not contact any other agency other than a registered and licensed firm in the UAE. Do not trust anyone that pose as a freelance agent. Make sure that the real estate agent that you hire to look for a rental property is registered with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA). Ask the broker about the RERA ID card before initiating any real estate deals. The complete list of RERA certified real estate brokers in the UAE can be found by visiting the site http://rpdubai.ae/.