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Landlords refuse to rent out property as Hajj season comes closer

altApril 7- As Hajj season comes closer many Saudi landlords have refused to rent out their buildings to locals in a bid to keep them vacant till pilgrims start coming in, it was learnt on Tuesday. Pilgrims will rent these places at exorbitant rates, said an unnamed source. As a result, rent in Makkah has increased. A three-room apartment, which could have easily been rented out at SR15,000 for a year, now costs SR35,000 or more.
In fact, several landlords have even kicked out their tenants in order to keep the, empty for pilgrims. Ali Saeed, a tenant, said he was living in a building in Al-Mansour district for three years when the landlord asked him early this year to vacate the building as it was marked for demolition for a development project. "All the tenants left except myself and another one. A few days later we found out that the man was lying. When we confronted him, he admitted and told us that he wanted to keep the building vacant to rent out to pilgrims," he said.
Saeed added that he asked for time to look for another place but his landlord refused since he was eager to get the building emptied as soon as possible. "He started threatening and annoying us to force us to leave. He even paid an African man to come and knock at our doors after midnight to threaten us to leave immediately. We finally had to leave. We are now staying in furnished apartments which are very expensive," he said.
Similarly, Umm Yasser, a divorcee, said she was living with her disabled son in an apartment in Al-Rusaifah district costing SR17,000 a year. It was in November 2009 that her landlord asked her to vacate the apartment since he wanted to convert it into a hotel. “A few days later, we discovered that he had rented the building out to pilgrims. When we asked for an explanation, he said the rent that pilgrims pay for three weeks is much more than what we pay in an entire year,” she added.
Meanwhile, lawyer Muhammad Nihar said landlords are free to rent out their buildings to anyone. "He can ask tenants to vacate after the termination of the rent contract or if he is being harmed by them," he said. Tenants can sue their landlords if they harm them but not if they want to rent out their premises to other people.

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