Tenants in many residential accommodations are being forced to pay maintenance costs that should be the responsibility of landlords, Gulf Times has learned.
As a result, a legal expert has urged government departments concerned to introduce a standard model contract that would take the place of often ambiguous and badly drafted rental agreements.
Inquiries made to some professionally managed real estate firms, select landlords and a number of tenants found that the maintenance of many residential units, especially flats and shared villas, where agreements are mostly signed between tenants and representatives of landlords, is being carried out by the occupants themselves even though the owners or their representatives have given an undertaking to make repairs.
“A day after entering into a tenancy agreement the owner’s representative issued me a copy of the contract document, which was said to be executed at a lawyer’s office and endorsed by the government department concerned,” said Saleh Mohamed Hani, a tenant at a newly-built building in Najma.
“It said the maintenance of the building would be borne by the representative’s company. However, that was perhaps the last time I met him and after that he would never pick up the phone to respond to my queries,” he said.
“However, the representative religiously encashed our rent cheques on the very first day of every month without fail.”
Other tenants also had similar complaints. Most of them are paying for the maintenance of their flats at intervals as the owner’s representatives do not respond to calls. “Even though the building is new, most of its equipment, especially the electrical and sanitary wares used for its construction are of poor quality and hence every month one needs to replace at least one thing or the other,” said one aggrieved tenant in the same building.
It was found that the water pump at another building in the same locality broke down a few months back. Even though the owner’s representative initially refused to replace the equipment he ultimately relented when the tenants threatened to instruct their banks not to make payments against the post-dated cheques.
“The representative not only immediately obliged but also got the pump changed the same day,” a tenant recalled.
Representatives of some companies carrying out maintenance work said a number of buildings, in particular flat units, completed in record time in the days prior to the 2006 Doha Asian Games, suffered from poor quality of construction.
“Every time we are called to carry out repairs by their occupants, we find more and more problems and try to rectify them. Connection pipes at many of such new buildings are poorly linked and hence clogging is common in quite a number of those
buildings,” said Jabeer, an electrician.
In almost all such cases it is the tenants themselves who are carrying out the maintenance at their own costs even though inquiries found that there was a clause for repairs and maintenance in the rental contracts.
Legal expert Nizar Kochery called for the introduction of a model, standard rental contract stipulating provisions for protecting the interests of both landlords and tenants.
However, the model contract should incorporate absolute clauses like those pertaining to maintenance, round-the-clock security (if it is a residential complex of flats), termination of contracts, mode of advance payment and collection of post-dated cheques, said Kochery.
A senior official of a professionally run, western expatriate-managed real estate company said many of the contracts issued by other real estate firms were mere carbon copies of the contracts that they gave to their tenants initially.
“We also feel that it is high time a standard, model contract is issued by the authorities on the lines of employment contracts, usually issued by some reputable companies in Qatar,” he said.
The official said theirs is one of the very few real estate firms that take utmost care to protect the interests of both the tenants and landlords.
“Even with the introduction of such well-drafted model contracts, we have no reason to be worried whatsoever as our company has a good track record in carrying out necessary maintenance of the properties that we manage.”
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