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Coronavirus effect: UAE residents evicted over Eid, harassed due to unpaid rents

Coronavirus effect: UAE residents evicted over Eid, harassed due to unpaid rents

Even during Eid, several UAE residents were either evicted or continually harassed by their landlords for unpaid rents.

Sharing her ordeal, distressed Filipino expat Mary Grace Edrosolano, 40, who lives in Abu Dhabi, said she had been suffering from psychological trauma the past days due to incessant calls and harassment from her landlord.

Edrosolano, who lost her job as an accountant due to business slowdown brought about by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, said she owes her landlord Dh2,000 (Dh700 rent balance in April and Dh1,300 unpaid rent for the month of May).

“Almost every day – from morning till evening – my landlord would call me. I begged him to give me some time to raise the money but that only made him raise his voice,” she told Gulf News on Monday.

“I had no source of income after I became unemployed and I was not able to raise the money. My landlord only got angrier and he called me a liar. One time he barged into my house and berated me in front of my roommates. He was really angry and I trembled in fear. I ran to the bathroom and he followed me so I called the police,” Edrosolano added.

She continued: “The police intervened and told my landlord that it was not right to harass anyone. But the harassment did not end. My landlord came back to my house and took video of my belongings. I was really afraid of him and on May 23 (Saturday) I just decided to pack my things and leave.”

Edrosolano said she spent a night outside her flat and waited for the sun to rise before she went to seek temporary shelter at a friend’s house.

Her landlord called again on Sunday and Edrosolano said she would still try to pay her landlord. She also left her queen-size bed and some stuff as collateral.

“I told my landlord that I spent a night outside the house and that probably knocked some guilt on his head that for the first time he did not shout at me,” she added.

Edrosolano said she is temporarily living with a friend but the trauma was still there.

Know the law: No rental eviction

As early as March, the UAE government issued directives to protect Abu Dhabi and Dubai tenants struggling to pay their rent during the coronavirus pandemic.

On March 23, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, directed the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department to halt all rental property eviction cases currently underway, along with executive procedures like imprisonment, blocking of bank accounts, seizure of vehicles, stocks and assets for a period of two months.

On March 25, Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Judicial Council, also issued directives to suspend eviction judgments related to residential and commercial facilities in the Dubai during March and April.

According to a legal expert, in the event a landlord demands eviction during the COVID-19 crisis, a tenant may approach Rental Dispute Settlement Committee to file a complaint against the landlord.

No tenancy contract

But tenants who spoke to Gulf News said they could not file a complaint since they don’t have a tenancy contract. They only leased a room or space sublet by the landlord.

A UAE resident who asked not to be named said her landlord cut the electricity to her room during Ramadan after not being able to pay rent for two months.

“My family had to spent days without AC and it was really hot,” she said, adding: “Some groups have come to give us food packs but I really could not find a way to raise Dh6,000 to pay my landlord, who told me we only have until end of the month to pay or he will force to evict us.”

Another UAE resident, Nigerian expat Chinelo Okeke, 36, said she and her family are also on the verge of being evicted from their house in Al Ain.

“My husband has no work and I haven’t received yet my salary since the school I worked for was shutdown on March 1. We have been receiving food aid from the UAE government and some civic groups but we have not been able to pay rent since February,” she told Gulf News.

More evictions

Ninfa Romero Castro

Ninfa Romero Castro and her housemates were also threatened with eviction after not being able to pay rent for two months now.

She said: “We felt helpless – three of us were placed under a no-work-no pay scheme while two have contracted the coronavirus. We have exhausted all means to raise money for rent and our landlord has been calling us everyday.”

Abu Dhabi resident Usman Ghani, 41, said he was not able to pay rent for three months.

Usman Ghani

“My monthly rent is Dh2,500. Despite pleading from my landlord – I told him I have three kids – he still shutdown the AC. We can not go out because of the current COVID situatuon and it’s now more than two weeks since my family are enduring the heat inside our home.

“Many people have offered free food but we really can’t raise money for rent,” the Pakistani national, who is married to a Filipina, added.

Landlords’ reactions

Gulf News reached out to the landlords - some were evasive; others were courteous enough to explain that they too are hard pressed and this was the reason they resorted to intimidation and harassment to force their tenants to pay.

“I also have bills to pay and I issued a cheque to the real estate company that was already past its due. I can’t lodge a complaint to the police that’s why I kept on badgering my tenants to pay,” said one landlord who refused to publish his name.

King Chopazar Belimac

Meanwhile, King Chopazar Belimac, a social worker, said his group (Global Overseas Filipino Workers Helpline) has approached the Philippine Consulate “to intervene and ask the landlords to extend rent deadlines.”

“So far, around 50 Filipino expats have already approached our group asking for help. We suggested to the Consulate to provide temporary shelter for residents who are facing eviction,” he added.


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