Heads up: Here’s a rental scam in the UAE to look out for…

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A fake real estate agent in Sharjah has been arrested…

Seen an apartment rental listing recently where the price seems too good to be true? Well, it probably is.

Sharjah Police have arrested a fake real estate agent who took money from dozens of people after they were drawn in by his cheap rental listings online.

Gulf News reports that the man has been identified as MSB Sharief – he would lure people in with exceptionally cheap advertised rents. He would then ask for the first rent installment, a deposit for power and water connections and a processing fee. Once these were paid he would switch off his mobile phone and appear uncontactable.

According to Gulf News he told potential tenants that he was renting the places out at such a cheap rate to ensure quick tenancy to clear his “financial liabilities”.

Those deceived by him said he would show them specific apartments, but upon returning to the homes they thought they had rented, they would find the properties occupied by someone else.

*ALSO READ: What are a tenant’s rights after a residential fire?*

The Sharjah Police followed up the victims’ complaints and discovered he was using a fake name and identity, and was using mobile phone numbers not registered to his name. He also forged all the legal documents he had people sign.

The suspect confessed to his crimes and has now been referred to public prosecution.

HOW DO I MAKE SURE AN AGENT IS LEGIT’?

The authorities have reminded people to be wary of “vague online advertisements” and to only give cheques to agents from reputed firms.

Remember, in Dubai, the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) has a list of approved real estate brokers. You can go through that here. Also, all working real estate agents in Dubai have ‘Brokers Cards’ that you can ask to see. And, never hand over money without receiving a receipt. The latter point stands, no matter how reputable a firm you’re dealing with.

You can also call the Dubai Land Department on (800) 4488 to make a query about any agents, or report one you’ve had a bad dealing with. They can also just help you with any general enquiries.

Also, remember that when you register for an ‘Ejari’ you are essentially legalising your contract with the government. So if an agent doesn’t mention this, or discourages you from doing so, that should be a red flag…

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Image: Getty