More landlords in UAE shun Filipino tenants

DUBAI – More and more real estate companies and landlords in the United Arab Emirates are avoiding Filipino tenants over concerns that they tend to have overcrowded units, distract neighbors with constant parties at home, and cook exotic food.

A growing number of real estate companies and building owners have been refusing Filipinos as tenants because they resort to subleasing the property once they have been given the contract, The Filipino Times learned. (READ: Top 5 problems OFWs face in UAE

In the past when there was property oversupply, real estate companies and agents were more accommodating in accepting tenants as long as they paid their dues. However, with the increase in the demand for residential units and a shortage of such in some areas in the UAE, landlords have become more choosy.

With a stricter set of rules from the landlords, Filipinos who sublet and live on sharing terms now face a higher risk of being evicted. There have been cases where some Filipinos were forced to vacate the apartment and were left with no choice but to transfer to a more expensive unit that they could hardly afford.

Previously, realty firms did not require prospective Filipino tenants to produce proof of their salary or bank certificates. These days, however, they require these documents and even do some background check.

“So if you’re earning only about Dh3,000 to Dh5,000 and you want to lease a property with intention to sublease it to other Filipinos, it would be difficult for you to get a flat these days,” property consultant Joel Yabut told The Filipino Times.

Some agents even ask tenants to produce passport photocopies of the tenants living in the apartment to limit subleasing and sharing.

“Most units in residential buildings are intended for families only. Filipinos would say they are renting the space for their family, however, the building owner would later learn they have subdivided the space without permission and rented it out to others who are not related to them,” said Yabut, who manages a couple of apartments in Dubai.

The property is subleased by subdividing the living area and rooms into small partitions or putting several beds inside, which are not permitted in the contract. Tenants who violate this rule are issued a warning first then a notice of eviction.

Yabut said the “sharing issue” – which sometimes constitutes cohabitation among Filipinos who want to save on accommodation expenses, discourages realty firms and landlords from renting out their property to Filipinos.

Another risk element related to subleasing is the probable conflict with the law regarding living together outside of marriage.

Michael Barney, a lawyer and director at Gulf Law, said cohabitation is considered a serious offense in the UAE.

“In the Philippines, relationship outside marriage is not a crime. The Family Code even recognizes 'live-in' couples and illegitimate children. In the UAE, carnal knowledge outside marriage is punishable by confinement for a minimum period of one year under Article 356 of the Penal Code. Moreover, the offender will be deported after serving sentence pursuant to Article 121 of Measures Restrictive of Liberty of the same code,” he explained.

Constant late-night parties and receiving lots of visitors is another top issue that discourages realty firms from getting Filipinos as tenants.

“Filipinos tend to have lots of visitors all the time. They love large gatherings or parties, which are not acceptable among tenants from other countries. They value their privacy and feel that having too many visitors in their premises is sort of an intrusive behavior,” Yabut explained.

He said he experienced being shunned by at least 5 realty firms when he inquired for some clients. These realty firms include Bravo, Capitol, Hills, Better Homes, and Tactical.

Cooking exotic food among Filipinos is another issue that concerns realtors.

Maribel Santos, a chief accountant in a free zone firm who also rents out apartments as additional income, said there have been cases where building tenants complained about dried fish and other smelly items cooked within the property rented out to Filipinos.

This is apparently an issue in most old buildings as their exhaust systems run through all the units, such that what is being cooked in one area can be transmitted to others.

Some buildings at Business Bay that Santos personally knows of prohibit Filipinos from cooking tuyo (dried fish) and even shrimp paste locally known as bagoong.

Because of the above, in addition to the skyrocketing rental cost, the business of sub-letting has become a less attractive source of additional income to some Filipinos.

In Tecom area, a studio would cost Dh55,000 to Dh70,000 a year; one-bedroom unit is from Dh75,000 to Dh85,000; and two-bedroom, Dh115,000 to Dh130,000.

In Deira, where a large population of Filipinos live, a studio costs Dh50,000 to Dh55,000 a year in rental; one-bedroom unit, from Dh55,000 to Dh75,000; and two-bedroom Dh85,000 to Dh120,000.

While more landlords are concerned about sharing, cooking, and constant parties, Filipinos, on the other hand, are bothered over the constant rise in Dubai realty prices.

Joy Geyrozaga, a lawyer from the Philippines who works as a senior paralegal at the volunteer group Filipino Lawyers in Dubai, suggested visiting the www.dubailand.gov.ae website to get more information about the UAE property law.

“The new Rent Cap Law or Decree No. 43 of 2013 has set the maximum percentage increase in rent permitted when a lease is renewed. The rent cap considers the existing rent amount of the property and the average market rental rate of same properties located within the same area through a rent index issued and updated by the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) on a regular basis,” said Geyrozaga, who has been in the UAE for the past 9 years and specializes in property law.

The UAE is currently home to about 750,000 documented Filipinos, with the bulk based in Dubai. While the majority rent in the city for their living space, some enterprising Filipinos rent out property for them for profit. – Rappler.com

This story was republished with permission from The Filipino Times of the United Arab Emirates.