Victims of rental fraud in Abu Dhabi will have no legal protection from the beginning of next year unless they attest their tenancy contracts.
Hassan Mohammad Al Hammadi, head of the financial unit of the Public Prosecution Office at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, outlined the new measures yesterday.
He said that the 99 per cent of rental fraud cases in the emirate involved tenants that accepted unattested contracts.
Up to 476 tenants were defrauded by the practice from January 1 to September 30, which typically involves landlords or property agents renting one home to several families and then leaving before being discovered.
The official said victims were typically lured by ads on property sites or social media before being offered a discount on the rent for a lump sum after viewing the property.
This practice continues with other victims until the fraudster discards his SIM card and disappears with the rental payments.
Property fraud is punishable by a Dhs30,000 fine and three years in jail, with attempted fraud bringing a Dhs20,000 fine and two years in jail.
However, Hammadi suggested the current law should be changed to allow victims to claim back the money that was taken without filing a civil case.
He said tenants should check all documents provided by landlords or agents and warned them it was their responsibility not to fall for quick transactions despite the rising cost of rents.
Currently attestation is required to setup electricity, water, phone and internet connections and sponsorship of family members.