Friday, June 14, 2013

The Cost of Living Comfortably in Abu Dhabi

Our April 2013 was a nightmare.  I am still reeling from all the events.  Hopefully peace time will settle completely.

I just have to share this episode that totally wrecked havoc in our simple but peaceful life in Abu Dhabi.  Who knew renting units could be such a hassle and a total nightmare.

We used to rent a studio unit at a villa in Manasir Area.  For those who are not area where this area is, it is near Bateen area and along Al Falah Street.  I hope this is correct though.  I'm not really sure about the street.  Anyway, it was our first time to rent a unit since we used to rent a room because we thought it would be cheaper.  Turned out, renting one unit for a year is cheaper than paying a monthly of  AED 2500 to 3300 for a room.  You will be sharing your bathroom and kitchen with other tenants in the unit.  Our first unit was huge.  If we were to put partition it could fit two rooms.  Plus the unit has a huge terrace.  It would have been a good space for running around if you have kids or dogs.


Unfortunately, living comfortably like this has its downside, for one, the agent went MIA after taking our money and leaving the entire villa without electricity.  The representatives of the municipality are our constant visitors informing us that the electricity bills have not been paid for over six months and the owner is planning to shut down the entire villa.  In other words, all tenants on that villa have to vacate the building.  It was just timely that our contract will be expiring on the same month.

So off to house hunting again.  That was the beginning of our April nightmare.  We have considered renting from areas quite far from the CBD as most units on this area are cheaper and free parking space.  Plus we need to have the unit with valid contract and tawtheeq registration.  We found one in Khalidiya area, near the BMW showroom.  The unit was huge, and we get to haggle for the price.  Unfortunately, the units are being repaired/renovated.  However, the contractor/agent committed to finish the renovation before the 20th so we can move in immediately.  In good faith, we proceeded with the transaction.  We gave them half of the annual rent, a post dated checque for the other balance and a deposit charge.  The promised that the unit will be ready after one week.  After 8 days we visited the unit to check what needs to be cleaned and what else needs to be fixed.  To our dismay the the unit looked as dilapidated as it was the first time we saw the unit.  We keep on pushing the contractor and the agent to finish it as we don't have much time.  Until a few days before the 20th we have decided to cancel the contract and withdraw our money.  This is when our nightmare started.

 The so-called "middle man" in the name of Saeed accepted our contract cancellation and promised to give back our money.  Everyday he promised to meet with us to give the money, and everyday we wait at the villa but he doesn't show up.  This went on for a few weeks we tried to report him to the police unfortunately the process is too tedious.  We have to go to the judiciary court in airport road then back to the rental dispute court.  In the end we were not able to to file a report.  Even cancelling checques takes a lot of process.  While this is on going we keep on texting this Mr. Saeed.  On one of the nights that he promised to give us back our money, nobody was there in the villa.  My husband and I lurked in the area for more than an hour.  Then there is this local guy who was also looking at the villa, he talked to my husband and was appalled by what this Mr. Saeed did to us.  He spoke to the caretaker of the villa and turned out that this Mr. Saeed spends his night in Sheraton Khalidiya drinking and hooking up with girls.  So we went there to confront him.  I was so nervous of confronting this thief.  The local talked to the reception to check if this Saeed is indeed in the hotel.  The call affirmed it.  The local and my husband agreed to meet at the hotel after two hours.

By 11 pm, the local and my husband were there at the hotel and waited for Saeed to check out.  Unfortunately he didn't show up.  So they decided to go straight to the police station to file a report.  The local was indeed a blessing, we were able to get the identification of this Saeed and we were able to file a report.  The whole transaction ended 4 am in the morning.  We are so thank for Mr. Salem for helping us out.  He is truly a generous man.

Until now, the case is still ongoing.  We still didn't get our money, but we are hopeful.  If in case we don't get our money back we pray that Saeed will go to jail.  I hope this will serve as a lesson to all of you wanting to get your place in Abu Dhabi.  Sometimes, good rental prices has its hitches.  Always be careful of the people you transact with, if possible ask for their identification details like their passport and licenses.  

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