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)]
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.
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...
Until about a year later….
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.).
Approximately a year later….
[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."]
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?
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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)?
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?
It would be in both of our best interests to just leave me alone and live quietly as I have been.
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.)
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.)
[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.]
- 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.
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!