Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Expat Rental Woes - Displaced Families

(Photo:  Arab Times)  Some of the Renters

No Power, Water For Sixty Families At Owner’s Mercy
Suffering Tenants Appeal For Justice
Arab Times
KUWAIT CITY, Feb 16: In a series of difficulties faced by tenants because the landlords increase the rents of apartments at will, 60 families are said to be living without electricity and water in one of the residential buildings in Maidan Hawalli, reports Al- Seyassah daily. This happened because the owner of the building sought to increase the rent midway (DG:  usually before the end of the rental agreement after 5 years) and the tenants refused to pay and the former cut off water and electric supply.  (DG:  All completely illegal, by the way.)
The tenants have appealed to the Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khalid, and Minister of Electricity & Water Abdulaziz Al-Ibrahim to solve their problem. The tenants reportedly sought the help of the emergency team of the Ministry of Electricity and Water after the landlord denied cutting water and power supply and a report showed the supply was cut off manually and that the ministry had nothing to do with the power outage. Several tenants, elderly and children suffered due to this indiscriminate act of the landlord especially since some of them are sick.  (DG:  Why isn't the landlord in JAIL?!)
Many of them slept at several places because there was no power supply. They say they want to settle the issue with the landlord once and for all. They say if the issue is of increasing monthly rent this can be resolved in a reasonable manner without causing harm to the tenants. Some of the tenants said they sought police help but to no avail and one of them was even detained for hours and finally released.
My Editorial [also known as "bitching" (US form of the term)]
Whatever happened to doing the right thing?  Do these landlords pray?  Fast?  Have their own families?  Has greed and corruption become so commonplace that these occurrances seem "normal" in Kuwait these days?  And why isn't the government helping them  - especially since (in this case), they appealed directly to ministers?  Why were they detained by police when requesting their help?  
Isn't there any decency here anymore?
I have had expat friends who have had to endure the same types of problems.  Sure, there is a tenancy law in Kuwait, but when you go to the rent court, you need to speak Arabic or have an Arabic translator present - at each and every instance (of which there will be many).  The procedures are so long and tedious that many people just give up and move out (or move on).  Why is this so when the majority of the people renting property (because you CAN'T own) are English speaking?
It is kind of a double-edged sword because most landlords don't want to rent to Kuwaitis (because Kuwaitis have rights, can speak Arabic, can fight back; and for other reasons that I could cite, but may be construed negatively); so they welcome expats (who can be easily abused).   (Disclaimer:  I'm not stating that all landlords are unethical/immoral, but there are growing numbers recently.) 
But hey, you can't change every archaic law to make it better/more fair, right?  But you can make new ones like not selling fish to expats or fining/deportation for barbecuing on the seaside, or or or...
Personal Rental Experience
Mashallah, I've got to say that I've been blessed with happy living in accommodations with good landlords.  I have only lived 3 places in 18 years here.  (Mashallah, Mashallah, Mashallah*).
The furnished temporary accommodation I first got myself into was a short-term deal in Salwa [with a phone, pool, maid service.... screaming kids 24/7, lizards in my bathroom, a dummy thermostat because the apartment was illegally cut in half using drywall and they were faking that I had control of the AC/heat (ha ha!  good one!); food smells (tacos AGAIN?!) from the noisy neighbors next door with The Devil Baby, etc etc].  I wasn't very happy there; but it was what it was:  a jumping off point to a more permanent home; an opportunity to get the lay of the land (and to start accumulating stuff I recognized from Ikea!).
My first "permanent" apartment, I lived in for 11 years in Salmiya until they decided to demolish the building and I was given the (legally-imposed) choice between 6 month's free rent or a payout of the equivalent of 6 month's rent.  During the 11 years that I lived there, the building hariss, Mr. Khalid, became like a big, Nubian brother to me. He fixed things, carried things, helped scare off lovesick little boys when they followed me home (it was Salmiya).  I invited Mr. Khalid to barbecues, brought him covered dishes, and gave him gifts (I wish I could have afforded to buy him dental work, but he still had a warm smile regardless.)  The apartment was on a top floor and very quiet with a lovely view; and it was very cozy.  I couldn't have asked for anything better.  Or so I thought...
Where I am now is (Mashallah) like my own (as in "I own it") home.  It has a private entrance, and a terrace with potted plants.  Plenty of room.  It's very quiet.  It was like God sent it to me when I was in despair (you can read my previous posts about trying to find an apartment in Kuwait - HELL!)   

After 3 years, the landlady (sister/-in-law of the owner actually - long story!)  asked to increase the rent by 50KD.  Although I know the law and all that yada yada, I didn't have a fit; it was all good. I know she travels a lot and gets her hair did like I do on the regular.  The apartment is so amazing (Mashallah) and I have so much privacy and amenities that I didn't blink an eye before agreeing to the rent increase (the first time she asked me).  It was all very friendly and amicable,  New rent, new lease agreement extending the payment rate for a few years; girlfriend gets her hair done.  Everybody is happy and I'm even thinking about re-decorating the big bathroom (Crazy-Dog-Lady Legacy - ha ha!).
I am, Mashallah, blessed because I can afford a 50KD increase in rent; however.  Many people living in Kuwait can't.  I can't imagine what it would be like living on a limited income, caring for children or elderly parents or sick relatives (or just being sick or elderly and or sick and elderly and having that type of stress).  When we were in the Great Kuwait Blackout of 2015 (all 2 hours of it) the other night, I thought about how lucky I am that our electric/water doesn't go out very often where I live. And I did actually think about those who were living without electricity and water and how they must feel all the time.  
So now I'm thinking about these 60 (not 5, not 20, but SIXTY) families and they are in my prayers too (I'm sorry that you have to go through this - especially the elderly because God knows that there is enough to worry about in your twilight years).  I hope their issue will be resolved soon.  Maybe some truly righteous landlord with empty apartments can offer to help them temporarily?  

*Note the use of "Mashallah" throughout posts.  I jinx myself horribly; give myself "hot eyes".  Stating "Mashallah" (In the name of God) wards off evil.  Inshallah.
More posts related to Rentals in Kuwait


UnSuperMom said...

The funny thing is some of these landlords DO pray and fast and are the first people in line at the mosque, but act like complete assholes to everyone around them. Just hypocrites!

I hope the problem gets solved soon and they have a decent place to live!

Desert Girl said...

Yup, UnSuperMom. Just makes me want to bitch slap them even harder. :D

زوجة تحت التدريب said...

Unfortunately , we had to deal with the same problem, when our building was sold, the new landlord came and order an increase of KD 60-80 / apartment, since, most of us could not afford that, the LL decided to cut the power of the elevator, and since we lived on the highest floor, and my mother has a bad knee, I could hear her crying every night out of pain, we complained to the police, yet could not do anything, we paid our rent in court, so he won’t kick us out of our homes, though he deserves nothing, but alas, the laws here are in favor of homes owners, as for the LL, his rep was making excuses after excuses for not fixing, even though I brought a mechanic to take a look and fix the situation after seeing my mum, the guy had taken the keys of the generator room!!! imagine his cruelty , till one day after more than 50 days, with no elevator, he sold the building to some other guy, who fixed the elevator and was very kind to us and gave us compensation, plus 6 months’ rent free and asked us leave the house, we obliged , not to mention, till today I keep cursing the earlier LL in my prayers for his lack of mercy and greed, unfortunately , I heard that he keeps buying buildings and treats its tenants same way!!! mako fayda

Naughtybutnice said...


My landlord is a Mulla with long beard and EVERY YEAR he will increase our rent and this year he wants to increase the rent more than 35% of our current rent.

whereas our next building (identical one, which constructed along with our building) owner is a haramy as per our landlord cos he often brings girls in his private room. BUT he never increase the rent within 5 years contract and even now their rent is far below than our last years rent.

Now you decide who is GOOD. :)

If anyone wants i can provide you my last 4 years rent receipt to prove my comment.

American Girl said...

Have they reached out to an Attorney that you know of? If not, or they can't afford legal counsel, they might want to contact Fajer Ahmed for some guidance. She's a brilliant Kuwaiti Lawyer who takes human rights issues very seriously. She can be reached at ask@fajerthelawyer.com.

Desert Girl said...

زوجة تحت التدريب -

I got so upset when I read your comment. That is awful and just plain evil. Maybe God will take away his gift of walking or something else as heinous will happen. God hits with an invisible stick: Hopefully, in the LL's case, it is a Louisville Slugger to the kneecaps!

I hope that your mother is doing better and isn't in pain anymore.

Uouo Uo said...


مؤسسه تنظيف

Averroes said...

Speaking of rentals ,We've got a ground floor with its own entrance for rent in south assurah ,if you got any friends interested email me for details desert girl

AND W're Good land owners : p


زوجة تحت التدريب said...

If the property still exists please send me and email, and more details regarding space , rooms and rent