Thursday, May 14, 2015

In the news today: Shot in Her Head and Agility Embezzlement Allegation

We get fascinating stuff 'round here.  From the Arab Times today:

Murder Case Hearing Against ‘Royal’ Adjourned To June 3rd

KUWAIT CITY, May 13: The Misdemeanor Court adjourned to June 3rd the murder case filed against a ruling family member of rank ‘Captain’ employed at Ministry of Interior for allegedly murdering a Kuwaiti woman. The plaintiff counsel Attorney Ali Al-Ali demanded temporary compensation worth KD 5,001, presenting evidences to prove that the murder of his client was planned. He also requested to present witnesses at the court. According to the case file, the defendant was chasing a vehicle when he shot the victim in her head, supposedly by mistake, which led to her death due to brain hemorrhage

Agility in the News Again

On the other hand, MP Askar Al-Enezi presented questions to Finance Minister Dr Anas Al-Saleh about the violations of Agility Company, specifically the allegation that the company has embezzled government funds. He claimed the company has been granted government-owned land areas under the pretext of building warehouses, but it rented out these areas to the government and individuals illegally. According to the State Audit Bureau report, Agility forged documents submitted to different governmental bodies to obtain State-owned land; thereby, embezzling public funds estimated at KD 63.5 million.  In light of the above, Al-Enezi asked the government to clarify the issue as he wants to know if an investigation has been carried out. If yes, he demanded for copies of the investigation results and the relevant documents. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Living Arrangements

I haven't found an apartment yet.  I  haven't been as aggressive as I was (in 2008) in looking for one - mostly because I am comfortable where I am and I know that my dogs are being well cared for.  I can't continue to live off the kindness of my friends for forever and I know that, but I don't want to be in the same position with an apartment that I was with this past one (Hell House in Rumaithiya).

I saw one lovely apartment in Salaam, courtesy of My Favorite Realtor, Zamina.  It was grand and OTT and huge, but the problem was that the owner lived on the other side of the wall, right smack next door.

Sidebar:  If you are looking for an apartment, call Zamina at 99464866.  Someone should take that apartment.  It has 3 bedrooms, huge balcony terrace outside, very good/private separated rooms and long hallways, enormous maid's room and bathroom, and a huge kitchen.  It isn't exactly my taste - not simple.  HUGE crystal chandeliers and oddly decorated (nothing you can paint over or try to re-arrange).  Ok, the shit is tacky.... just sayin.  But it is still a great living space.

I saw another one in Salwa that would have been suitable - had it not been for the tear-down.  Why do people SHOW apartments when they are in a state of destruction?  Literally - the entire tiled floored surface of the place was torn out.  The light fixtures were torn out (although you could tell it used to be a F flat by the lighting system and a few other details).  "Oh, don't worry, madame. That will be fixed by the time you move in."  Really?  Seriously?  And you couldn't have swept up the 3" cockroach in the middle of the living room? (They thought that my question was hilarious.  NOT!)  What is WRONG with people?  Also, as soon as they saw the blonde, they called back and said that the apartment was going to be 50KD more than they had told me when they showed it to me. Apparently, you pay more for the roaches.  KMA mofos.  You have no idea...

Another little ditty along those lines.... Saw an apartment  (in 2008) in a new building in Maidan Hawalli.  Nice looking building.  Centrally located.  All new.  I walked into the apartment and (get this shit - I can't make it up):  someone had sprayed the place with machine gun fire.  Every wall.  Straight lines (obviously someone who knew how to hold a gun).  I'm like, "Dude!  Who died here?"  Again... here comes that South-O-The-Pyramid's line, "Oh, don't worry, madame.  That will be fixed by the time you move in."  Really? Seriously?  I couldn't run fast enough (in heels) to get out of there.

Sigh.

Anyways, I'm holding out for the right apartment. It will come.  I have no doubt.

I moved some of my furniture to the farm to my room there, so I have a little piece of home.  It is more like a nun's cell (as if!) but I have my things and my space and that makes me happy.

I took Mikey to the beach this weekend.  He had a great time chasing waves and running up and down.  He's staying with the 2 angel friends at Dogs Spa Hotel (9494-0004 or Instagram @dogs_spa_hotel) and they're not only caring for him, but socializing him with other dogs and training him.  He got to visit his girlfriend, Lucy, this weekend at our farm also.  He gave me lots of dog hugs and was constantly aware of where I was. Desert Dawg is with another angel down in Mahboula (or Mangaf - not sure and I always get that area confused).  My friend, SalonGirl, has known Desert Dawg since she (DD) was a puppy.  I know she's in good hands.  I miss my kids.

I've been a little vulnerable during this whole trauma and I may not have been thinking clearly.  I put my trust (again) in a man who has done me wrong in the past and again - he proved himself unworthy and walked away.  Sometimes you just want someone next to you to give you a hug and tell you that everything is going to be ok.  I didn't get a hug.  I didn't get a goodbye even.  Just left again.  (Wish you well and hope you find what you are looking for, my Lost Boy. I fear for your regrets down the line, but there's nothing more I can do to help you.)

When this kind of destruction happens in your life, you immediately become aware of who your friends are; and who are not.  I hate being taught that lesson.  Sometimes you would rather just leave people as "acquaintances" and not consider them friends and learn that they are not.  Some people are just there to kick you when you're down.  Some are holding you up and giving you comfort.

I kind of had a meltdown at the farm the other night - in front of my real friends who have never seen me cry before.  Two of them (and one was a man) started crying with me. I ended up consoling them. If I hear one more person tell me, "You're strong..." I am going to whoop somebody's ass.  Even strong people have their limits.  My limits have been reached and exceeded.  One of my little goats even died during all this.

My real friends keep telling me how blessed I am (and I am blessed, Thank You, God!).  Because God is closing doors to open others.  He is showing me things and teaching me things and helping me help other people (I hope).

What is weird is that I have slept so well every night since all of this happened.  I can't explain it because usually under a lot of stress I can't sleep, but OMG - I'm doing so well in that regard.  I still look like crap, but that's to be expected (having some work done as soon as I can get back to the States!  Woo hooo.)

Anyhooser, enough gloom.  It's another beautiful day in Kuwait. The sun is shining.  I'm having a good hair day.  I'm sippin on a vanilla soy latte (iced) and I'm going to kick some contracting butt at work now.

Have a blessed day, everybody.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Assmonkey Landlord

I moved out completely yesterday.  Given the eviction notice on March 25 and moved out on April 29.  (Pretty quick if you ask me - by Kuwait standards).  Legally, I didn't HAVE to move out until January 1 of 2016.  But - can't live under constant physical and emotional threats.

I do not have a home yet, but I will find something.  I'm not concerned.  I'm staying with my BFF. We gossip. I sleep in a totally comfortable, quiet and secure room.  I know my kids are ok.  And tomorrow - I will start driving my own car again and give back the BigBadBedouinTruck (although I have thoroughly enjoyed driving that wrecking ball of badass machinery!)

Assmonkey is now playing silly games about returning the security deposit.  Now, I know that might SHOCK some of you (that I actually think that I would get my security deposit back....)  To most landlords here, a security deposit just translates to extra money for them.

Cool thing is that  you don't have to clean to get  your security deposit back.  Need I say more?  I left with dignity, but I'm not going to wash the floors either.  (I should have saved some of that dog poo that they threw at my  door...)  Alas, that would have been beneath me.

Anyhooser,  I have a lawyer who is completely authorized to act on my behalf.  I'm not doing squat.  Let them collect the money.

Assmonkey told us that he has a lawyer.  He provided his name and a false phone number to me.  Nice to drop names (because apparently Assmonkey KNOWS a lawyer, but just hasn't actually retained him.)  Ha!  Cheap.  Then Assmonkey has said that I need to deal with his mother and his sister from now on (because he's a REAL man and has his mommy do things for him).  I giggle. AssmonkeyMom and AssmonkeySister's  names are not on my rental contract:  His is.  Whatever the assmonkey family has done to me; he will answer for.

Assmonkey also wanted me to sign an agreement that I would not pursue any additional legal action against him or his family.  Now that thar is the funniest thang I've ever heard!  He so fun-neeee.  The criminal suit can play itself out.  I believe the police involvement and their level of anger over how I was treated/threatened is enough to keep that ball rolling without too much intervention. And then there is the civil suit:  I signed a "No KY" clause to allow my peeps to go after whatever they can, however long it takes, whatever it takes.

I am now closing the door on this chapter and thinking of positive things.

oooooosaaaaaaa

11 May Update

They said I stole their refrigerator.  That is the latest reason they provided for not returning my 400kd security deposit.  Well, Assmonkeys... it's like this.  In 2007, my sister bought a $10,000 over-the-top gorgeous refrigerator for her home in Virginia.  I had fridge-envy, so I searched Kuwait high and low to find a (much cheaper alternative) similar stainless-steel refrigerator.  I found it.  That was SEVEN years ago.  Assmonkeys are so CHEAP that they want to quibble over a refrigerator.  Phuck them!  They are so unprofessional that they never asked me to sign an inventory listing; which means, I can state that they stole "my" dishwasher, washer/dryer, and stove.  Turn-around is fair play.

I wasn't there for the final inspection/walk through.  I refused.  I'm paying a lawyer (God bless her) and she represented me (I was out of town anyways).  She did the walk through.  Assmonkey wasn't there; he sent his mother, sister (the hariss) and psycho brother.  They all wanted to tell stories/lies to my lawyer again.  She wasn't having it.  She did the inspection with them - all normal wear and tear after 6 years - and took the keys with her to deposit with the court.

Now, I'm sure that Assmonkeys have already broken into the apartment.  That is a matter for the court to take up with them.  As it is in dispute, it is illegal for them to enter the apartment until the court makes a determination and they (Assmonkey himself) go to the court, pay the security deposit, and take ownership of the keys/apartment.  I hope my lawyer goes to the apartment and witnesses their illegal entry and discusses it in court.

The criminal case is still pending.

Assmonkeys did tell my lawyer that they plan to gut the apartment.  This translates to they are going to make it into smaller bedrooms so that a family can move in for more money.  [God willing, the Assmonkey family will hire a cheap contractor (or not pay them at all) and the contractor will knock out a load-bearing wall and they'll all be down there at the same time and crushed to death. ]

KUWAIT!  If you are not going to allow foreigners to buy property in Kuwait, you need to start creating and enforcing fair and decent tenancy laws.  

Not everyone has the salary I do.  Not everyone can afford lawyers when this type of blatantly criminal activity against innocent tenants takes place.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Landlord Problems: What did she do to make them so angry?

If I read this continuing saga - that would be the first question that would come to my mind. ... she must have done something to piss them off to this extent, right?

So, I live in a private villa.  I rent the basement floor.   They didn't want to rent to me to begin with because (supposedly) I had a dog.  The way the sister of the landlord ("hariss") looked me up and down on the day I was to first meet with her was like she was Church Lady sizing up the town prostitute. (Because they only want to rent to foreigners, but all single foreign women must be prostitutes...)   Anyhoo, she agreed to me renting it.  I loved the apartment and moved in.  I also knew that they could have asked for much higher rent than they were charging me (400KD)

When the hariss handed me the illegal eviction notice (March 25), she demanded that I sign it in agreement.  I refused and said that I would have my lawyer look at it.  3 days later, she flew back down the stairs on her broom and asked for the signed copy and grunted, "What are you going to do?"  I said ONLY, "I'm staying."  She said in a mocking way, "Ohhhh you're staying?  Ok. .... ok.... " as if she had something in mind. ("I'll get you my pretty... and  your little dog too" - Wizard of Oz).   The next time she came down, she demanded that I return the letter to her (either because they figured out that it was illegal, or more likely that she wanted to show her brother the owner that I had refused to sign in agreement).  I told her that the letter was with my lawyer and that I didn't want to speak to her or her family again - she could contact my lawyer and I gave her his card....

And that was enough to send the entire thug family into a psychotic rage apparently.

GET OUT!

I am certain that they want to re-rent the apartment to someone under a much higher rent.  Had they asked, I probably would have paid without blinking an eye.

I have since heard that, "It is MY house.  She needs to get out."  Well yes, it is his house, but like a rental car, you are paying for something to be in your possession for as long as your contract states. It is business.  If you don't want other people living in your house, don't rent to people.  You don't just decide you don't want to do business anymore; there is a contract and agreement and both parties should abide by it.  If I didn't abide by all the terms and conditions in the contract, they would have every right to call the police too.  But I've never violated any of their stipulations.  There is even a clause (#6, page 2) in the rental agreement which states (in English and Arabic) that I have a dog and where the dog may and may not walk in, on, or near the common areas of the property.  I have never broken that agreement and have always used a separate, private entrance.

I have never spoken to the owner of the building (although I have tried calling, he has refused to answer).   He has SMSed me once prior to the problems and that's it.  I signed and sent him his eviction notice - stating that I would vacate on his terms.  If he had picked up the phone and spoken to me when he first wanted to evict me, none of us would have the problems we're having now.  Now he's facing years of legal issues.  Even if I decide to back down; even if I move to another country - my lawyer will still fight the battle on my behalf.  And no - I am not going to give up.

What I believe is that because I am a single woman living alone, they assume that I am going to cower and slip away quietly.  Under "normal" circumstances, I might just have.  But I've been threatened.  My dogs have been threatened.  My car has been threatened (they asked one of the house workers to vandalize it).  My health is at risk (chest pains and EKG's baby....wanasa).  I'm not going to slip away quietly on this one.

I have physically moved out of the apartment, although I still don't have anywhere to move to (I'm looking).  I got a quote from a storage company for 500KD for a WEEK for packing/storing my things (a 2 bedroom apartment),  DAYUM!!!  I've removed all the valuable and sentimental items.  The small dog is with a friend who has known her since she was a puppy.  The big dog is with other friends at a boarding kennel.  I'm staying at the farm on the weekends and with my BFF during the week.  I am sleeping well now and I no longer feel that I have to sleep with a knife next to my bed.

Even when I go back to the apartment to pick up small items or to pack, I don't go alone.  The brother of the owner sits outside in his car, pretending to be working on it, while he stares at me the entire time I enter/exit.  Thug threat tactics.  More intimidation and threats - for no reason.  I'm leaving - WTF do you want me to do???

God help any other tenants that move into their properties.  (This one is in Rumaithiya and it should be coming available after Ramadan.  It is a basement apartment.  Taupe color building that used to be yellow.  The house is right off the walking track.)

A house needs to fall on the whole bunch of them.... Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

My Kuwait Ghetto-Landlord Problems - The Drama Thickens

I now have several cases  against them - both civil and criminal.  It is unfortunate.  I will give them the benefit of a doubt and say that they were extremely uneducated on the subject of Kuwait tenancy law (rather than calling them blatantly evil people, but serious - they are devils.  Evil djinn.).  Everything they have done thus far is 100% illegal.  Against the law.  But - they don't care.  Not in the slightest.  Thug life, baby.

I have written to the landlord (SMS) and begged HIM to get a lawyer for his own good.  He has no idea of the repercussions of his/his family's thuggery.  You gonna learn today!

In less than a month (3 weeks!) since I was given an illegal eviction notice, (cutting short my mutually agreed-upon lease contract) there has been quite a bit of coercion and criminal activity directed at my apartment/me.

For the past week, I have been to the police station nightly and I have now enlisted the assistance of a second attorney (the first took the money and wouldn't answer any of my calls - for a week - as I called constantly).  My new attorney, Nadia Al-Mutawa, is both a human right and women's rights activist in Kuwait and has been incredibly sympathetic and professional.  [Small world, but I remember her from the occupation of Kuwait (90/91). She was working with the UN.  I liked her then - I like her a lot now.]  The power of attorney I signed with them basically could have read, "Yo!  Go for it!"  Same same baba.

So, my landlord problems started simple:  I really wanted to stay in the apartment and thought they would be reasonable.  They were not and retaliated to my stating, "I want to stay." by deliberately cutting off the electricity just when I arrived home from work.  (Now daily.)  I knew it was intentional.

I went to the police station and filed a report.  Which is the correct/legal procedure. What you do is simple:  Bring your civil ID and a copy of your lease agreement to the police station in your area.  An investigator will review your agreement and send a patrol officer with you (separate cars - so bring a car) to your residence to verify that the electricity is out and that you don't have access to a fuse box. (In my case, the landlord just installed a new lock on our fuse box room so I couldn't get access.  All other apartments have had electricity).  Then you return to the police station and the investigator will attempt to call your hariss or landlord to have the electricity switched back on.  If they don't switch it on, you must go in the morning to the rental court and they will take additional steps to get your electricity switched on (I don't know what those steps are because I didn't have to go).

The next day, it was vandalism.   This is where things got interesting because I learned new things from the police.  I have a basement apartment with a large wrap-around yard.  When I first moved in, I had iron gates made (with a design to match the existing railing) so that people wouldn't come down the stairs.  I also replaced their cheap, ugly outdoor lighting with more expensive lighting (at my cost).  I had some Moroccan lanterns out there and sun sails so that the plants (theirs, by the way) wouldn't die in the heat of the summers.  Well, it appeared that the Incredible Hulk went through in a fit of psychotic rage.  Tore out (by hand) the iron gates from the concrete walls.  Tore out the lighting fixtures.  Threw the Moroccan lanterns in a pile in front of my door.  Cut off the sun sails. Tossed about the plants.  And... I kept a covered metal trash container for dog waste (poop).   I pay someone to keep the yard tidy and pay extra for cleaning up after the dogs.  Well, HulkDevil threw the entire container of dog poop in front of my door.  And then they decided to break off keys in the locks so I couldn't enter my own home.  I had to call someone to break in and when he did - the sister of the landlord flew down the stairs (on her broom) and attempted to retain the locksmith in the yard until he gave her a spare key (not legal on either issue).

Ripped out gates and moved plants

Twisted metal from gate (Hulk style!)
Dog excrement dumped on my welcome mat
(before photo) They ripped out the sun sails
and threw the lanterns (right) into a heap

What I learned:  You rent the apartment; not the yard or surrounding areas.  The landlord can do whatever the hell it wants to with the yard - and that includes removing or destroying your property.  Vandalizing.  Yup.  Legal.

What is CRIMINAL, however, is trying to enter your home or obstructing the doorway so that  you can't get into your home.  Anytime they enter your home for any reason, it is on. (Example:   Oh?  What's that?  You had 30,000 kd worth of gold in your apartment and now it's missing?  That's a case you'll win for sure and criminal charges also.)

What I also learned:  Do NOT piss off Kuwaiti police investigators.  You do NOT want them to be against you.  A senior officer/investigator on duty wanted to investigate the damage himself after he couldn't believe what he was hearing.  He came.  He saw.  He's angry.

I met a very nice Kuwaiti CSI (masters degree in biochemistry!) who came to take fingerprints and photos for the criminal case.   Spoke outstanding English and was very professional.  I was impressed!

Now, I have made friends with everyone at my local police station (night shift); from the tea boy to front desk officers, to patrol police men, to senior investigators and criminal investigators.   They know me on a first-name basis.  I know them on a first-name basis.  I've promised a puppy to one of them; I've promised to cook meals for others.  They are kind and professional and compassionate.  And... I believe that they are after justice.  I can't even tell you how kind these "angels with Glocks" have been to me.  They know I live alone and I'm pretty sure they've got patrols around my house.

The behavior of my landlord and his family living in the adjacent villa is not rational (and the police have stated as much also) They have been threatening and it seems like psychotic behavior.  I am afraid living there.  Yes, I am moving.  No, I don't have to by law.  I have given them notice and asked them kindly to refrain from any more activity which would result in further police intervention.

I am also not driving my car because I fear that the psychos would vandalize it too.  It is safely stored at a friend's house while I drive his (big bad Bedouin) 1-8 (Avalanche pick up truck).  It is what we use for desert "safaris".  It is a beater. I effing love it.  However, if the psychos decide to even sneeze on it; they are going to have to answer to an angry Bedouin man.  And THAT, my friends, is entertainment!

Do not lie to the police

The landlord and his family has been caught in several good-sized lies to the investigators.  The police don't like it when you lie to them.  One night, at the diwaniya (which is what my BFF and I refer to the police station as - since we are there so often and have tea and story hour with the guys).... anyways... one night, the landlord's mother called in to complain against me.  I was sitting across the desk from the investigator.  (They put it through to him because the woman mentioned "an American lady with a dog" and all the guys know me at the diwaniya.)  Long story, but if she wanted to file a report/complaint, she would have to march her bigfatass down to the station to do it. You can't just call them.  Anyhooser, she said that she wanted me out of "her house" with my dog.  The investigator tried to explain that Kuwait actually has laws and that they had broken them by turning off the electricity, etc. and breaking things in the door locks so I couldn't get in.  She said she did that because she was afraid of the dog.  The investigator asked her (in Arabic) for proof that the dog was dangerous.  "Is he outside the apartment?"  "No"  "Did he bite anyone?" "No"  Does he make noise? "Yes" (he doesn't - it is a dog down the street) "Do you have any recordings or have you filed any complaints in the past year?" "No"  "Where is the American woman now?"  "She is downstairs with her big dog and her boyfriend - or maybe many men. I don't know.  You should go talk to her"  (Yes, that's right.  I was sitting across the desk from the investigator - one of my favorites.)  He also knew that my dog has been out of the apartment for over a week because more than 5 police men, a CSI and a senior investigator have been through my apartment gathering evidence and he wasn't there.

Do not piss off the police

An investigator (dunno which one, but I love him) at the police station distributed the story below to the media.  It is his version of the events.

Al Rai Newspaper, 22 April 2015, Page 67

It basically says that someone came to my door to attack me and that I didn't know who it was and that the police helped me.

What happens next?

Well, I have several cases against the landlord and I want justice.  They seem to have an over exaggerated sense of entitlement and that they are above any sort of law.  Perhaps if nothing else, these posts will help a future tenant who would like to move into the property.  Or maybe someone who is already going through it.

I am moving the F out.  I have SEEN crazy coming and unfortunately, couldn't run fast enough in the opposite direction.  I'm going to put all my things into storage until I can find an acceptable apartment somewhere/anywhere.   Maybe move into a smaller furnished apartment that will allow the 2 tenants Kuwaiti landlords hate the worst:  dogs and a single woman.  I can't get out fast enough.  I can't sleep.  I don't eat for days.  I'm having chest pains.  I cry easily. I feel like at any time in the night, Hulk Devil will break through a door or window and come at me (so I'm sleeping with a knife ... because you can't have handguns in Kuwait....)  My big dog is being boarded (I miss him) because they've threatened to kill him.  My little dog is going to stay with a friend.  I'm staying with friends from now on (because starting this weekend, all my stuff is being boxed).

I haven't had the time or opportunity to even look at apartments because I have been at the police station every night.  If the psychos would give me time to look, then I could get out faster, but they obviously don't have more than one brain cell to rub together.

I couldn't make this shit up if I wanted to.

If this kind of craziness is happening to you, don't try to work it out alone.  Get a lawyer.  Find someone(s) who will help you.  And move.

I believe this may just be my final year in Kuwait.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

American Expat Living in Kuwait Disappears While on Vacation in Phuket

Friends of Josh Divine's (who works in IT for the military in Kuwait) are on Facebook spreading the word about his disappearance.  I don't know him, but from every account, he sounds like a wonderful guy and I hope that he is found safe.

Josh and his wife, Goi

KARE has a mention on their Facebook site saying that Josh is an animal lover and has helped them many times.



"Family members are searching for answers after a former soldier and Connecticut National Guardsman disappeared on a scuba diving trip off the coast of Thailand.

Joshua Michael Devine, 36, vanished from a tour boat Saturday morning in the Similan Islands. The Massachusetts native grew up in Southington and enlisted in the Army after graduating from high school. He now lives in Kuwait and loves spending time in the water.

"He had been looking forward to this trip for months. He had gone on the trip before but didn't get to see the whale sharks, so he was really looking forward to this," said his sister, Enfield resident Jennifer Bakowski.

But something went very wrong.

"At midnight on the 11th, he set sail on the boat, and at 4 a.m. the same day he was gone... just gone," Bakowski said.

Witnesses told the family Devine was aggressive and paranoid on the boat, so two other divers brought him into a storage room in hopes of calming him down. They left for 15 minutes, and when they returned he was gone.

They also said Devine had been drinking heavily with other divers, a move Bakowski describes as uncharacteristic.

"He's a master diver, rescue diver, a dive instructor," she explained. "He's just the most responsible person I know, and for him to get drunk before going into the water, especially within a couple hours..."

Devine's mother, too, said it's an unlikely story.

"This is not Josh, and it didn't happen from drinking because he doesn't drink before a dive," said the missing man's mother, Marie Major.

The family wonders why officials haven't acted more aggressively to find Devine – and why it took so long for his fellow divers to report him missing.

"At no point did they stop the boat to look for him. They searched the boat up and down, and for whatever reason, waited six hours before contacting the Marine police, and by that time, they were now six hours from the location he went in the water," Bakowski said. "They continued on with the rest of their vacation like nothing happened."

She wonders if maybe his disappearance wasn't an accident.

"I don't want to accuse people of being awful to someone else, but it's the only thing in my mind that makes sense – that they drugged him in some way," Bakowski said. "The way they portray it, it doesn't happen, you know? The version of events just doesn't happen the way they're saying."
Although Thailand is now celebrating a national holiday and has called off its search, Major remains hopeful.

"I think he's sitting on an island somewhere, waiting for us to come and get him and wondering what's taking so long," she said. "He is the most intelligent person I know. He is the most resourceful person I know." 

Family members are spreading the word on Facebook about Devine's disappearance and raising money for a trip to Thailand, where they plan to restart the search for their loved one.

"Somebody help us get him home," Bakowski pleaded."

---  End ---

You can keep up with his story on the Facebook site set up for him:  Bring Josh Home Safe (https://www.facebook.com/BringJoshuaHomeSafe)



Articles:


Donate to help Josh’s family in their travel/search efforts in Thailand:  http://www.gofundme.com/rt25ze6





Thursday, April 09, 2015

65 census bedouns eligible for citizenship...

Not too much in the news about the Bedoon issue lately.  Saw this today.

April 9, 2015, 9:12 am

Decisions issued earlier on the cancellation of the citizenship of some people were in line with the law, says Ministry of Interior’s Assistant Undersecretary for Citizenship and Passports Affairs Major General Sheikh Mazen Al-Jarrah. In a statement on ‘Good Morning Kuwait’ radio program, Al-Jarrah pointed out such decisions were taken only after thorough verification of falsified documents through which some people obtained citizenship illegally; hence, the need to strip them of their nationality.
He said results of DNA tests showed these people do not belong to any Kuwaiti family and nobody has been treated unjustly in this regard, asserting he is ready for a public debate with anybody who claims otherwise. He argued other countries also have stateless people (Bedouns) and Kuwait is the third among GCC countries in terms of the number of Bedouns.
He stressed that Bedouns included in the 1965 Census are eligible for citizenship. He added the ministry will start distributing e-passports before the year ends while a study is being carried out to change the format of the nationality card and the proposal will be presented soon to the interior minister.
In a related development, Al-Jarrah revealed several questions regarding the situation of Bedouns were raised in Wednesday’s National Assembly session by MPs Mohammad Al-Tanna and Faisal Al-Duwaisan, who asked Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khalid and State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdallah which authority oversees the activities of the Central System for Remedying the Status of Illegal Residents (CSRSIR) and the names of its staff.

Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdallah apologized for the inability to respond to the queries of Al-Duwaisan, asserting the questions should be directed to the Fatwa and Legislation Department. Al-Duwaisan then retorted: “Is it logical that the CSRSIR has been working for the past four years without knowing the ministry under which it belongs?” Al-Tanna interjected saying, “I directed a question to the interior minister on the activities of many officers regarding purchase of fake passports by some Bedouns and I am still waiting for their response.” He added, “The Bedoun file is worrisome locally and internationally. Is it reasonable to see families of Bedouns holding passports issued by Eritrea and Zimbabwe and sold to them with the knowledge of the officers?”

Monday, April 06, 2015

The Crappiest Marriage Proposal of All Time


Me:  '... but  you don't love me....
You don’t even look at me or talk to me or care about me.'

Him:  "You can make me love you."

'Why should I MAKE any man love me? Either he loves me or he doesn't. 
I'm not going to marry anyone who thinks I should force him to love me.'

He can't even say the word, "Marriage" - he refers to it as "the contract".


This conversation took place over the phone!
Where is the F-ing romance?!


Yes I understand his motives for wanting to marry me, so nobody needs to write to me to say, “Blah blah he wants…  yada”  I know.  I got it.  And I’m not going into details.  

But hey – if you want something from me; if you are asking ME, don’t serve it up, wrapped in your unique blend of shit.  Sugar coat it a little!  Just a little?  Just a weee tad bit little?  Can’t you do that??  I mean, you might have to get off the effing sofa to do it, but come on – isn’t it to YOUR best interest to do it, not mine?  Do you think I owe you this for some reason??  Entitled much?

Shiiiiiiit. Do I look desperate?  (Maybe I do?  For those of you who know me – do I?)  I sweartoGod, I wasn’t even thinking of marriage.  It is out of my bubble.  My bubble is full of happiness and goats and dogs and people who love me and going to watch Cinderella and knowing that I create my own damn fairy tales.  If I want a beautiful garden with little birds and butterflies and flowers, I plant it myself.

Don’t try to burst my bubble.  It’s not yours.  MY bubble!  Get out.

Of all the marriage proposals I've had; this is literally the crappiest. Marriage proposals shouldn't make you cry (and not for joy) - and for sure shouldn't be asked over the phone!!!   Have some balls.  Drive over to my house (that being the worst-case-scenario.  I didn’t  think it could get any worse, honestly.).  Bring a flower or something/anything.  Best-case-scenario:  propose someplace beautiful and meaningful with a little romance. Maybe (get this... ) a ring??  But dude.... Over the phone?  Seriously?  Is that all you’ve got?  That is the anti-class and reaches new levels of douchebaggery.

(Flipside - I've had some nice proposals....) Son-of-a-Sheikh:  Asked my father.  Brought me jewelry. Diverdude: Asked my father and then me - Under a palm tree off Maui.  Shamlan:  Small ring, 100% love.  (We should have gotten married, but we were both so young and he was worried about taking over the family business on re-entry to Dubai).  Even AR (the one prior to this)  Sweet guy.  Good intentions. Wanted to get down on one knee "Like in the American movies" in front of all my friends...  There are more – even a few for Green Cards.  (The most I was offered was $100,000. They still asked in a kind way although I would never do that -  Decline.)


These would be my ideal proposal scenarios:  On a beach.
Simple.  No frills. Romantic.
This would also be my ideal wedding venue.
Little white tent.  Tiki torches.
Simple.  No frills.  Romantic.

I’m not a material asset and marriage not a business (or a baby factory).  When/if I decide to get married, it will be for love and that is the ONLY right reason I know. 

Until then…. I’m not convinced that marriage is a good deal for me.  I’m not convinced that I will stay with anyone (Shamlan was the exception) and not get divorced.  So this… whatever this crappy “proposal” just was…  not convincing at all….

This just proves to me, once again, that it is easy to get married; anybody can do it.  It doesn’t take any effort at all.  But who wants this??

WHAT do I get out of the deal?  A man who doesn’t love me?   A man who has already told me that he will probably take a second wife (who the f says THAT to a woman when he’s trying to convince her to marry him?)  Is that supposed to make it okay with me that you announce your plans prior to marriage?  It's not ok.  I do not accept that.  So, should I just tell you know, so that you know for future use, that I will cheat on you?  Is that how it plays out?  

I got my own back:  You have nothing to offer me.  I have a family and friends who love me.  I have cars.  I have jewelry.  I have a job and money;  and what I don’t have, I’m smart enough to get on my own without a man (Mashallah).  I-got-it-MYSELF without any help.  

"Don't tell anyone.  Just between you and me."  Oh wait... You want to keep it a secret?  I think not.  IF I ever get married, its going to be announced by someone who is proud to be marrying me.  As a former fiance said, "I'm going to put it in all the newspapers in Kuwait and we are going to have a huge party so that everybody will know..."  (never happened, but he had amazingly good intentions and we're still friends!)

But perhaps Crappy Proposal Dude wants to keep it a secret for  a reason...

And let’s talk about YOUR reality for a nanosecond:    You have 1,013 slutty females on your Facebook account.  You advertise your BBM and KIK codes so that they can easily get in touch with you. (You must be desperate if you have to advertise!)   You are chatting with them while you are sitting with me. (Yawn - really?)  I can SEE who you are.  I can SEE what you are doing.  You aren’t even trying to hide it all.  (I laugh because I.don't.care.).    I asked him, 'Do you want to marry a whore?' (Long pause) .... 'No, I'm not referring to ME.  YOU are the whore.'  I don't need to discreetly inquire about his reputation because BAM - there it is on the internet for all to see!     If the situation was reversed, would you want to marry a woman who had the same stats?  

Sigh.

So okey dokey.  This just becomes another anecdotal story to put into the Desert Girl book someday.  A momentary diversion from (business) proposal and contract writing and the long drive between home and Kabd or the beach.  However, these bewildering case scenarios become tiresome...

Dear Universe:  My birthday is coming up.  I’ve been very very good.  I really have.  Could you please send me something better than this?  I know this kind of thing is just a test, but I’ve got binders and binders containing these tests and I would like something completely satisfying, happy, content,  romantic (and maybe even convincing) now.   (My friend, Libra, says that if I don't ask The Universe for what I want specifically, I might not get it.  Good advice.)  

Sidebar:  This episode took place on one of my favorite holidays:  Easter..    Easter to me is about my mother and sister and happiness and unity.  Rebirth.  Little crocuses popping their heads through the winter Earth to come up to the sun.  Baby animals and festive colors.  Springtime in Washington, DC.

So today, the day after;  Easter is what I’m focusing on and not the story above.  I just had to get it off my chest to recycle it.  The blog is therapy.  Bygones.  I file you now.

---

Update:  He didnt' call me the day after the above.  Or the day after that.  Or any day since.  Proving my point.

Since this writing, he has told me via SMS that he knew I wouldn't marry him to help him - he was just testing me to see what kind of a person I am.  Yup. That's right, men.  When you can't win:  FLIP IT.  Arrogance will get you nowhere.  He doesn't even understand that he has done something wrong!

If you have NOTHING to offer, don't expect the outcome to be in your benefit.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Life as a Tenant in Kuwait



There is a lot of “play” in Kuwait on tenant rights.  If you’re new to the country, or even some of us who have never played the game with an unethical landlord, knowing what to do and how to protect yourself becomes really important.  [And even then – unfortunately, it is if-y as to whether you will get your rights or not (because of landlord wastah, courts, nationality, etc)] 

I believe that having another expat’s perspective is invaluable.  I’m writing from my perspective so that maybe others can benefit from my story and what I have recently gone through.  Hey, maybe someone can pass this along to a Kuwaiti lawmaker considering a change to the Kuwait Law of Tenancy as a case study.

Prior to this, I had never had an issue with landlords.  I’ve been in Kuwait for almost 19 years now and landlords had always treated me kindly and with dignity (thank you – both branches of the Al-Essa Family – for making me believe in the integrity of property owners in my host country/second home).




The “How You Pay Your Rent” Scam

I moved (from an Al-Essa high rise property)  into a lovely private villa. The villa is surrounded by a pretty little garden.  My basement apartment has a wrap-around terrace with potted plants, private entrance, plenty of parking.  It is quiet and private; I don't see anyone and they don't see me (unless they try to).  It's perfect for my dogs and for sitting outside.  It is the envy of all who visit it - at quite an affordable and decent rent.

The owner lives in another villa in a different area/township of Kuwait.   His charitable contribution to his family (mother, sister, and brother) appears to be that he allows them to live in the adjoining villa to where I rent. 

All of the rental tenants at the address are Westerners.  There are approximately 5 rental apartments in the 2 adjoining villas.  That was a key selling point to me.  I was hopeful that I would be able to meet my neighbors even and get to know them.  (Most have come and gone so fast that I haven’t ever been able to establish friendships.)

Soon after I moved in, I had a distinct impression that something hinky was going on; as they would not give me rental receipts and asked me to pay through electronic fund transfer to the hariss* (the landlord's sister - who is actually not a hariss but is acting in that capacity - although I wish she would take out my trash because I believe that would be her only benefit/redeeming quality to me).   It seemed rather odd, but it was what the other tenants were doing, so I obliged. 

* For those unfamiliar with the term:   A “hariss” is a building superintendent/janitor/guard. It is usually a male in Kuwait, although in other Middle Eastern countries, the hariss may be a female (“Bawab” or “Bawaba”, for example, in Egypt).  The hariss in Kuwait often works in the capacity of owner’s representative, collecting rent every month.  He usually gets paid extra money by tenants to wash their cars and take out the trash.  (My hariss doesn’t do this, sadly.  I would love to see her wash my car and wrestle with a few Hefty bags.)

Who/how I pay might have been an issue within the first year of my residence in their property: The landlord could have claimed that he was not receiving rent from me (as I was paying to someone else’s bank account under someone else’s name – and not to him directly). During that first year, they could have scammed me (or an unsuspecting tenant) into eviction and possibly owing them not only back rent,  but future through the term of the contract.  However, now, years down the road, it is a moot point.  

Advice to those having the same issue is to immediately demand receipts for rent.  If they do not provide receipts, it is cause for you to pay immediately through the rental court.  If you want to use electronic fund transfer (EFT or bank transfer):   or on your electronic fund transfer form, state that the payment is for flat rental, payable to (owners name, CID # if you have it, and his/her address – exactly as it is stated on the rental agreement).  My hariss is not very intelligent and gave me copies of both her CID and her bank card so that I could make EFTs.  I retained copies of both.  I scan/save everything.

Raising the rent part-way through the term of the contract

About a year 
... after I moved in; one night at approximately 9 pm, an unknown-to-me older woman (only time I've ever seen her before or since) knocked on my terrace door and demanded that I move my barbecue grill inside.  First, I had no idea who she was, but then it dawned on me that she was the owner's mother.  She didn't know what the grill was.  I told her (in Arabic) and she said that maybe someday I could cook fish for her.  (Huh?  Ok, whatever.) She said that they would be painting soon, so she wanted me to move it.  I did.  2 years later (yes, you read it correctly), they started painting without notice (lasted 6 months - awful noise and disruption).  Shortly thereafter...


Approximately 3 years into the contract, the hariss (owner's sister, but I'm going to keep calling her "the hariss" because I. Like. It.)  called me with a happy-go-lucky tone in her voice (the voice of greed), explaining that I had been there for 3 years and they were going to raise my rent. (Laaaaa wallah?!  ... Oh... is it because you need to pay the painters?)  I asked how much.  She said by 50KD.  I recited the Kuwait Law of Tenancy  – that they couldn’t raise the rent until 5 years had passed, BUT,  ‘because we were such good friends.’ I was going to go ahead and pay the increase as long as they provided me with a new contract.  (This was at the advice of a lawyer – thank you, Amer, it's really helpful now!)  They did.  I did.  All good.

Until about a year later….

I was "bestowed" with a puppy/big dog (who never barks and who I clean up after constantly).  I already had one small dog (which was written into the contract by the owner - legally acknowledging acceptance of animals in the apartment - not that it matters; legally you can have pets as long as they aren't disruptive).  My contract states that I'm not allowed to use the front entrance to the villa and I'm further not allowed to use any of the common areas (like the garden) because I have a dog. I never have.   I don't even walk my dog in the neighborhood; I literally drive him to a secluded area away from the house to be considerate.

Brother of the owner (lives at the adjoining property) saw me and said, “My mother is concerned about where the dog goes to the bathroom.”  Really?  Where does your mother go to the bathroom?  Irrelevant.   

Several days later, the owners driver knocked on my door, demanding to know where my "big dog" was.  (Luckily,  he was in Kabd at obedience school for 2 months.)  Driver say, "Madame said a big dog was scratching at her door last night and barking."  I said, 'Ok.  Not my dog.  Maybe it was a djini."  I thought at the time that they were just messing with me; making up excuses to make my life difficult. (I heard later that there was actually a stray German Shepherd in the neighborhood making the rounds around our villa.  Isn't that odd?!  I never saw it.  Ghost dog sent to mess with me.).  

Shortly after that discussion, I received an SMS from the owner stating, "You need to get rid of the dogs.  My mother doesn't like dogs." That was the full extent of the missive.  (Well hello and howdy-do to you too!  Nice to hear from you!)   I don't have a legally-binding contract with his mother and I don't know the woman.  My mother doesn't like pizza.  So what?  It’s all irrelevant.  I tried to call the owner.  He refused to answer.  Rude.  Therefore, I ignored him.   All was quiet and I hadn’t heard from them for any reason in approximately 1 year.

Eviction Letter Delivered

Approximately a year later….
(Perhaps it is cyclical thing with them?  An annual piss-off-the-tenants event?  Other places might have barbecues for their tenants, but noooo….)  I heard that his mother was still not happy that I was living there; this time, heresay from someone who knows the family. “(The Mother) says that you are having sheesha parties”  Really?  I don’t even smoke and I have asthma. Is that the best she can do?  Followed by,  “Do you invite men to your apartment?”  ‘Does mother invite men to her apartment? I’m not doing anything immoral or illegal.’  Irrelevant.

IF you rent to Westerners, expect them to be Westerners.  Don't treat them poorly when they pay rent on time (or in advance) and have made improvements to your property; while at the same time wanting to have a quality of life. Should be simple. You are getting paid for a service or product.  Deal with it.  If  you think you’re not getting enough for that service or product; you should have written it differently into the initial agreement.  For example:  You don’t sell someone a car and then decide in a year to change the price.

So, I was recently served with an eviction notice (from the owner- not a lawyer or court), but through the hariss.  (No eye contact.  Mumbling.  Head lowered.  Girl, if you know you're doing something wrong or you don't feel good about it - it is a pretty good indication that you shouldn't do it.)    Last sentence of the letter was, "Good luck."    (In local Kuwaiti dialect, “Good luck” translates to the US Southern version of “Bless your heart.”)  Well... I wish him good luck too.


Did you know this?  I didn't...

The letter has given me 2 months to vacate stating that he wants the unit for his family: This is illegal. If he wishes you to vacate for "family use", there are several stipulations: 1) your unit must be the only unit in the villa for rent. 2) He/she cannot own more than one home.  (And although I'm not 100% sure of this, I believe that the law further states that the "family use" rationale applies only to immediate family - like daughters or sons, mothers or fathers, who want to use the apartment for their use.)

In my case, my landlord failed to meet those criteria.   I can easily prove secondary residence ownership because I know where he actually resides - with his 4 children under the age of 17.  I  have the house PACI (Public Authority for Civil Information) numbers (which will reveal ownership).  Even if I didn't have access to the numbers, any lawyer can do a search for property ownership through the Kuwait Land Registry Authority.

[Since this writing, the hariss has come down and asked me to return the eviction letter that they submitted to me.  What - was it a joke?  Funny ha ha.  You don't see me laughing.  I posted my attorney's business card on my door and told her that I didn't want her bothering me anymore.  She can call him.  I've had enough emotional distress.  "Good luck."]

Worst-case scenario

If he/she files a case against you (stating that they "really do need the property for family use") and wins, the court will order him to pay you 6 month’s rent or give you 6 month’s rent free (or 3 months free and 3 months paid).  It is further NOT legal for the landlord to give you an eviction notice and a vacate date without it being court-ordered.  Owner's letter to me also stated that I should be sure to pay my rent through the notice period on the 1st of every month.  Also illegal.

Advice to my friends out there

Don't discuss anything verbally with your landwhore - make them put anything they have to say to you in writing.  I will no longer accept phone calls or SMSs as a form of communication with my landlord or hariss. (The "Block/Delete" option is the beauty of most modern-day smart phones.)

Change your locks.  If they enter your residence for any reason without your permission, it is cause for an immediate CRIMINAL court case against the landlord (call the police immediately and have a copy of your lease agreement handy). Further, should they illegally enter my home without my permission and get bit by my German Shepherd (or your canary, cat, pet snake, son/daughter....), the law is on my side as it is an illegal home invasion.

Why not just move?

I know that this all seems like a whole lot of drama, and is it really worth it?  But....

I love my apartment.  It has all the amenities I want - and that are hard to find in the market.  The dogs have plenty of room. I have plenty of room. The (agreed upon!) rent price is right.   There is also an economic factor to moving:  Why should I incur that extra expense when legally I don't have to?

The drama has been taking place at approximate 1-year intervals.  I have timed it now (and I also don't have to talk to them anymore).

It took me 6 months and a lot of time and effort to find this apartment (read previous posts on "how to find an apartment in Kuwait").  It is my sanctuary.  Why should I be placed under psychological duress for an issue that I, as tenant, and he, as landlord/owner agreed upon? I signed an agreement with my landlord - on his terms and conditions:  Why should I move when he agreed to the TandCs on HIS contract, with his signature, that HE wrote?!   I pay fair rent, as it was mutually agreed upon. 

Further, this guy is the Devil I know.  Who is to say that I moved somewhere else, it wouldn't be worse?  How do you know?

Do I look like I'm a stupid foreigner??

Perhaps I may appear to some people that I am a stupid foreigner and I don't know the law,  but I don’t back down when it comes to (important) rights.  Little things (for example – not a real-time scenario at all for me) like getting a day of vacation that I’m owed or whatever – that stuff isn’t important.   Where I live is.  Moving is traumatic for me.  I don’t like it.  It is an upheaval that I try to avoid.  I was moved around a lot as a child.  I’m an adult now and I make the choice not to.  (I was in the Al-Essa apartment for 11 years.  Paid my rent in advance or on time throughout. I invited the Hariss - who was more like a Nubian brother to me - to dinner and barbecues with my friends and I. We both cried when I moved out.  What’s the problem?  Why can't people just be kind to each other?)

If there are any kind,decent Kuwaiti landlords out there who have a rental property and would like to rent to me, write to me (amerab@gmail.com).  I'm a dream tenant (I'm never home!) and I'll even bake you cookies or a delicious American apple pie.  Yummmm.

This landlord has, from what I have heard (and this is heresay),  played out the same negative scenario with other Western tenants and have gotten away with it for years (to include the former GM of a very well-known formerly Italian hotel on the Gulf Road – because his wife cooked curry and the mother didn’t like it!). Perhaps they received the same eviction notice as I did?   Perhaps the landlord increases the rent every time a tenant moves out or is whimsically "dismissed" by the owner's mother at the wave of her chubby hand and sceptre?   Perhaps it is just giving in to supposedly keep family peace (at least for another year)?  

Someone needs to grow some balls and do the right thing. Man up. Karma is a bitch.  They have children in the family.  What goes around, comes around.  How are those kids (who are going to the US to study) going to be treated by others?    The hariss knows she is doing wrong; to the extent that she holds her head low, mumbles, and won't make eye contact with me (prayer doesn't give you a free ticket to being unethical and unkind to others.) She openly told me several times how those (other Kuwaitis) are ruining Kuwait.  (No honey, YOU are ruining Kuwait.)  The landlord has western friends and business associates and touts himself as being "open minded".   I love Kuwait and hate to see what kind of hypocritical behavior is happening here by some (not all).

Most Western expats pay the equivalent (if not more) of a decent mortgage payment for rent in Kuwait every month.  We will never be able to own property here as foreigners.   Can we not just be treated fairly and ethically?

I have done my best to be a quiet, kind, considerate and decent neighbor/tenant.  I’ve made home improvements.  I’ve installed a sound-proof door so that in the off-chance that either of my dogs bark (and they don’t) my neighbors won’t be disturbed.  Many times the hariss has asked me for rent several times in advance (“International Bank of Desert Girl”).  I’ve obliged out of goodwill.  I’ve even tried to help the hariss find her friends jobs when asked.  Why aren’t they bestowing the same goodwill to me?

It would be in both of our best interests to just leave me alone and live quietly as I have been.


Tell us how you feel....

I spent some sleepless nights worrying and feeling sorry for myself.  I know - Boo hoo.  Then I decided to stand up and fight.

After speaking to four different sets of attorneys (different perspectives/advice/sizes of firms)  and finally agreeing on a strategy (with the help of a dear, dear Kuwait friend), I feel much better. I’m not intimidated.  I don’t believe the landlord would ever try anything stupid:   I don’t feel threatened.  I sleep with a 100 pound German Shepherd and have close police friends in the neighborhood (and actually, my new attorney lives several blocks from me).   If worst-comes-to-worst and the court (and only the court) asks me to vacate after a 6 month period of free rent, then I’ll vacate.  Until then, I’m not going to worry about it and carry on as usual.

Look, people have terrible, awful, tragic things happen to them every day.  On the scale, this is nothing compared to what they are going through.  I thank God every day, several times a day, for all my blessings.   However, when someone puts you in this position, it really is traumatic.  I feel violated in a way.  It made me feel discarded after I had been kind.

I hope that writing/posting this might turn into a blessing and I might have helped someone out there feel better and let them know they have a choice. (You're not alone.)

Next Steps 

The series of events will undoubtedly play out and I will write more as it does. 

For now, my lawyer is my voice/ representative.  They have advised me to pay my rent on time and should the landlord stop me from paying,  I will notify the attorney and we will file a case with the rental court and pay my rent through them.  If the landlord decides to try to evict based on “family requirements” and file a case,  we will go to court against them (and still get 6 months rent free at worst).  Both parties would be able to tell their side of the story, giving a fair verdict on stay/go; not a random decision made by the landlord.  "Good luck...."

My lease is up in 2017. What happens then? Well, they can increase the rent by a certain amount.  If I need to, someone from the court will come in, assess the property, and determine by how much the landlord can increase it.  Can they kick me out in 2017?  Nope.  That is another beautiful part to this scenario.  (And again, at that point, should they try to evict me, we would let the court determine if I should go or not.)

Why retain a lawyer? 

Because like anywhere else in the world, local lawyers know the court system.  They give you the best advice and they will do the leg work for you.  Plus, unless you are fluent in Arabic, you need to bring a translator with you each and every time you do something at the court.  My baby-Arabic won’t cut it in legalese.

[When I went to the Ministry of Justice to have my power of attorney approved, I was impressed because they actually wouldn't allow just a friend to translate. It had to be an official translator (the Ministry will provide if you don't have one at signing).  They do this to ensure that the English-speaking expat completely understands what he/she is signing and isn't misled.  Impressive.]

And from a different perspective:  Kuwait is a society where you are judged immediately by appearance and/or what country you are from.   A lawyer who runs in and out of the court all the time isn’t going to be judged.  He’s there to represent an invisible client;  you.

Don’t get me wrong, should you choose to work on your own, you can go to the rental court for your area/jurisdiction and ask them for advice and next steps.  Then, be prepared to take a lot of time off work, battle traffic, and go to the court numerous times with your translator. It will probably be a frustrating process. 

Papers to bring with you to discuss your case with a lawyer:

  • A copy of your rental agreement
  •  Copy of your civil ID and passport with residency page
  •  A typed chronological timeline of events between you and the landlord (helpful)
  •  Past 6 months of rental receipts or bank statements showing electronic fund transfers (the bank will provide these to you and stamp for the court.  You can black-out your balance and any other irrelevant information).
  •  Any other relevant documentation you have received from your landlord and/or his/her representative.
Referrals

I am happy to provide a referral to legal counsel (with reasonable fee)  should anyone want it (and no - I do not take commissions or referral fees).  Please keep in mind that I'm not a lawyer and I can't answer your legal questions.  Write to me at amerab@gmail.com.

If you are a local lawyer and want to help foreign guests in your country with these tenancy cases, get in touch with me.  I will make referrals at no cost to either party as long as I think you can help people.

Here is a lawyer who will take on tenant cases!
Nadia al-Mutawa, Hugo International Law - Salmiya block 11 - Baghdad st - Oval Tower - Floor 11 Tel: 25646411 email: hugo.international.law@gmail.com  

Monday, March 23, 2015

Fair Rents

Kuwait to establish new entity to set fair rents
Sunday, 22 March 2015 1:25 PM
Arabian Business (www.arabianbusiness.com)


Kuwait will establish an administrative body to set property rents in a bid to avoid extraordinary price rises, Arabic daily Al Anbaa has reported.

Landlords would be required to lodge their vacant property with the body, who would set rents according to criteria including the area, type of property, age and services, Al Anbaa said.

Rents have been rising well above inflation in the past two years, with thousands of new foreigners arriving in the Gulf state but little real estate development.

The influx of people also has affected traffic in Kuwait City and put extreme pressure on health services.


Most Kuwaitis are entitled to government housing but there is a long waiting list. Last year, local media reported the wait was up to 20 years due to a lack of available homes.
----

I posted my comments on my FB site, but for those of you who are boycotting FB, here ya go:

Yes yes, this is another committee being set up to discuss a problem.  BUT - at least they have started to discuss it.  You know - admitting you have a problem is the first step to solving it.  

What I think Kuwait should first do is to:
  • Allow public access to names of landlords with tenants filing their rent through the Kuwait court system. 
  • Then, the Government should fine repeat offenders. 
  • And finally, should they continue to have violations, the Government shouldn't allow them to rent anymore for a period of time (maybe a year?). 

The renters court is a free service from the Government. Make the cheating landlords PAY; collect revenue for the country!  For example, if I should have to pay a lawyer to file a case against my landlord who is threatening me in some way and he/she is found to be guilty of that (by the court), why should I have to pay for the case?  

Next, I completely agree with this proposed entity/eventual law. There is an enormous lack of housing in Kuwait and exorbitant prices aren't helping anyone. Maybe if we were in another country where people could OWN property, they wouldn't have to set a rental cap because people would have a choice. There is no choice here.  

In Kuwait, you pay rent; at amounts that are equal to (if not more than) a mortgage payment for a pretty nice home in  your own country; only for the landlord to raise the rent prior to the completion of your lease.  You are also threatened and subjected to emotional duress (and this is in the "sanctuary" of your living space, right?).  And this all inside a residence that (again) YOU are paying for.  Often times by people who look down their noses at other local nationals as if they were lower-class, and less ethical than them.  Pot/kettle.