Muscat: A number of tenants in Muscat were surprised to see notices pasted at the entrance of their buildings saying rents will be increased by 20 to 30 per cent and failure to pay would result in eviction.
Greedy landlords, mainly in most populated areas in Ruwi, Al Khuwair and Ghubra, are being supported by real estate agents who have assured them of other potential tenants if the existing ones fail to meet demands for enhanced rentals.
Shocked by notice
"We saw this notice only last week at the entrance saying all tenants in the building will have to pay 25 per cent more at the end of the current contract. For me, it means another OMR950 a year when my contract expires in October," Ramesh Rotilal, a resident of Ruwi who works as a motor mechanic, told the Times of Oman.
What's the alternative?
Other Muscat residents said if they failed to find an affordable alternative, they would have to send their families back home.
"I can't afford to pay an additional OMR120 every month for my three bedroom flat in Al Khuwair. The rise in rent is too steep. I have two months to look for cheaper accommodation, otherwise, I will send my family home and share an accommodation with a friend," Sujit Purtiwalla, who works as a fast food restaurant manager, said.
Defending the hike
But landlords defended the increase in rents saying the demand for good accommodation in convenient locations is currently in high and the hike in rent is justifiable.
"It is a matter of supply and demand. My estate agency advises me that I can earn more from my block of flats because their clients are knocking on their doors looking for good properties at ideal locations. If they are willing to pay more, why should we not charge? It is pure business. Nothing personal," Murtadha Al Lawati, owner of a building of 24 flats in Ghubra told Times of Oman.
Enforcing the rule
Tenants blame the Muscat Municipality for not enforcing the rule forbidding landlords to raise rents beyond 15 per cent per year.
"The Muscat Municipality must make sure that landlords don't increase the rent arbitrarily. We now have landlords who are demanding more than 30 per cent hike in some cases. What's the point of having a rule and not enforcing it?" Egyptian national Kareem Abdulfattah, an independent businessman, said.
What about complaints?
A spokesman from the Muscat Municipality said that it was the responsibility of tenants to lodge complaints if their landlords increase rents unfairly.
"It is impossible to scrutinise every tenancy agreement that we stamp to see whether the hike is reasonable or not. Tens of thousands of such agreements pass through our offices every year. Tenants must come forward and report their concerns to us so we can take action," the Muscat Municipality spokesman told the Times of Oman.
"Tenants can file a complaint if they have a dispute with their landlords over unfair rental hike. Most law firms are willing to represent them at the court and judges have the right to freeze the rent if landlords cannot justify the increase," Faisal Al Hajri, experts at the AlBashari Legal Consultations, told the Times of Oman.
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