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14 September 2008 11:12 am

Fake eviction notice, new ploy to oust tenants

Khalifa Al Haroon
Khalifa Al Haroon
Your friendly neighborhood Qatari
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IMAGINE having to wake up with a rude surprise stuck to your house’s front door in the form of an “eviction notice” – pretty scary? Well this is how two long-staying tenants felt recently, when they discovered an A4-size notice, taped to their doors, stating they must evacuate by October 4. The “notice” in Arabic, shown to Gulf Times by tenants of a building in the Musheirab Area, roughly translated as: “Respected … We would like to notify you that we are in the process of building a tower in the place where you stay. We would like you to vacate the building by the end of Eid Holidays (October 4, 2008). May God Support Us All!” The single-storey building houses approximately 22 people. It is contracted by the owner to three tenants; one entrepreneur has 3-4 rooms for his six employees and warehousing; another has three rooms that he shares with six of his colleagues and another four rooms that are shared by two people a room. The current rent, after it was increased as recent as June, for the whole building amounts to around QR6,000. “We were first told about the demolition and hence the eviction by the middleman, who said that while trying to pay the electricity bill, the Kahramaa official told him not to worry, since the building is going to be demolished anyway,” said the tenant who has been living there for the past 40 years. “This surprised us. Because the Kahramaa (Water & Electricity Corporation) rarely tells a tenant that the building will be demolished and there is no need to pay an outstanding bill. We smelled foul-play,” he said. When confronted, the middleman claimed he “was not himself sure why the Kahramaa officials would tell him such a thing”. Upon inquiries the tenants learnt that usually the eviction notices are served by the municipality. When the notice was brought to the attention of the Building Permit Section at the Doha Municipality, an official laughed and ridiculed it by saying: “This is a fake document. An eviction notice must come from Mahkama (court/authority) .” The head of the Complaints Department at the Municipality, Saif Mohamed al-Noaimi echoed the same view. He said : “No one can evict a tenant on this basis.” He also warned others to be watchful. Sources said the notice could be the handiwork of the middleman with the aim of getting rid of the current tenants and then rent out the building at substantially higher rates to new customers. Law No 4 of 2008 (Rental Law) explicitly says that the landlord can seek the tenant’s eviction only with the consent of the rental dispute solving committee. An eviction can be sought in the following circumstances: non-payment of rent, subletting of the premises, and usage of the premises for purposes other than what is stipulated in the contract. “If the landlord wants to evict the tenant on the grounds that he wants it back for self-use (for the use of wife, son, or parents), a notice period of six months shall be mandatory. “If the landlord wants to evict the tenant for demolishing the building, then the building should be more than 15 years old.” But the law clarifies this point by adding: “If a residential building is to be demolished and a commercial facility built in its place, the landlord has to get prior approval from the authorities concerned.” It further says: “In the event of the landlord getting permission for demolition or renovation and needs tenants to vacate, he should give notice for not less than six months after getting the permission to carry out the activities.” GT ALWAYS MAKE SURE THAT YOU CHECK UP ON EVICTIONS. Don't let sneaky landlords get away with it.