Sunday, 12 July 2009

Moving out of the Rental House

harjit

My world has been completely taken over of late, with moving out of our rental house.  Only 12 months late, our newly mortgaged, freshly built house is ready for occupation!  It was a shame to see the other place go, but at the same time, we were looking forward to getting into our “own” place and painting the walls red, if that’s what we wanted to do (we don’t want to by the way)!

Our (Indian) landlord, who was if you recall, was an utter pig to us when we moved in, had softened of late, and one day even turned up with a basket of whole-nut chocolates for the children (although given that O has a nut allergy, maybe it wasn’t such a nice move!), but any bad experiences we had experienced so far from him, was nothing compared to moving out.

Firstly, given that we are in a depressed rental market, he managed to secure a tenant as soon as we moved out.  Well, in fact, BEFORE we even moved out!  Jammy man – only he could do this.

Our house rental was ours and paid for up until 23.59 on Thursday 2 July and the new (very nice) lady’s rental period started on 00.01 on Thursday 2 July.  Can you sense a problem brewing???

Oh yes – from 9am onwards on this day, both T and I were consistently being hounded by the landlord, asking when we would be out.  The reply was always the same – as soon as the removal people take the stuff out of the house!  We agreed that we would try to hurry them as best we could, but given that they were packing up my best crystal and all my worldly goods and putting it onto the back of an open truck (which was subsequently going to be driven down a 7 lane highway), I wasn’t going to hurry them too much . . . !

The one thing about Dubai is that it is rather in the dark ages in terms of public services.  In order for us to disconnect our water and electricity, T had to physically drive to their offices about a half hour away, take a ticket and wait his turn to be seen.  DEWA (the government owned electricity and water company) is on a nice little earner.  When you get connected for the first time, you have to hand over a nice not-so-little deposit of 2000AED per villa (about £335).  Apartments give a deposit of 1000AED as their bills are likely to be lower.  This protects them should you decide to skip the country and not pay your bill.  Multiply this deposit by the number of households in Dubai, and you’ve got a nice not-so-little annual interest payment going on  . . . . !!!

So, Tim gets to the front of the line and says that we are moving out.  He gives them an approximate final meter reading.  The chap behind the desk informs him that they will send out another chap to do an official reading, checks his postal address, and confirms that the final bill will be in the post once the “official” meter reading has taken place!  Fine, perfect, although being able to do this over the phone or the internet would have been sooo much easier.

Tim then tries to connect our new house to DEWA and tries to set up a new account.  He has with him, his passport, his residence visa and proof of ownership of our house, but he has done one dreadful thing, he has forgotten some other paperwork that is apparently vital for the connection of our services.  He is told to go away and to come back with the correct paperwork!  (Paperwork in Dubai, by the way, is crucial and getting most things done is often excruciatingly painful – you can’t even buy a SIM card for your mobile phone without a passport.)

Tim comes back to the old house and here starts the standoff with the landlord.  The new tenant has arrived with all of her stuff and we still have a couple more truck loads needed to transport all of our belongings!  We talk to the lady – she is very nice and understands.  We try and move our stuff to one side of the house so that she can start her unloading process.  All fine and dandy.

Then, the landlord opens his mouth. 

He refused to give us our security deposit until we prove to him that we have paid the final DEWA bill.  Now we are in a loop.  You CAN’T pay the final DEWA bill until the official man has come to read the meter.  But to most rational people, that’s not an issue, because remember that DEWA have a 2000AED deposit against the house (so the landlord of the electricity company are rarely out of pocket).  Summer monthly bills are normally in the region of 1800AED, so this more than covers our projected bill.  Add to that the fact that if you don’t pay a bill, you’re flung in prison anyway, is enough of a deterrent to most people!

So, darling landlord is asking us to prove that we have paid a bill that we physically are unable to do until the final bill comes through.  He knows this really.  So, Tim gets into an argument with him and refuses to hand over the house keys until we get our (previously agreed) security deposit back.  But, don’t forget the nice lady waiting to move in . . . . . the landlord then threatens Tim with the police.  Nice move.

I get a call at the new place to get back to the old place to help.  Whilst I’m driving there, I call a real estate (and Dubai regulated) friend of mine for clarification.  She confirms that it is illegal for him to do this and in addition, he is also not allowed by law, to hold two security deposits against the same house, which he is doing.  She recommends that we call the police to sort the landlord out!!!  Perfect, some ammunition.

I get there and start “talking” to him with Tim.  We tell him that if he doesn’t return our security deposit, we will call the police.  He murmurs and moans a bit, and clearly the threat works as he eventually agrees that he will hand over our security deposit (which by the way is nearly £2000 so worth fighting for).  Victory, but we got absolutely no pleasure out of it whatsoever.  Clearly £40,000 rent per year for a 3 bedroom/2 reception roomed house wasn’t quite enough for him. 

It’s people like him – greedy when it comes to money – that give a lot of other people a bad name. 

We managed to get all of our belongings out of the house by 10pm that night – a complete nightmare of a day, all conducted on a summers day in the Middle East.  Nice (and sweaty)!

However, Tim still had to go back to DEWA to connect us to the new house . . . . .  another story for another day!