Rents in Makkah rise ahead of Haj
Landlords in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, are gearing up to kick tenants out ahead of the Haj, in order to charge pilgrims extortionate rents. They do this every year. It’s illegal.
November 11, 2009 1:41 by Badea Abu al-Naja
“Building owners rent their apartments at normal prices throughout the year. Their rental contracts, however, contain clauses that tenants have to clear out before the Haj,” he said.
Al-Sharif said a friend of his was also asked to empty his apartment from the middle of Dul Qaada until the end of Dul Hijjah.
“My friend will move into temporary lodging for the duration of these six weeks. He also has to go through the trouble of moving his furniture which might break in the process,” he added.
Previously, al-Sharif’s friend used to pay between SR2,000 ($533) and SR2,500 ($667)for an alternative apartment during the Haj, but this year he paid SR4,200 ($1,120) because of a shortage in available housing units.
One Saudi man who asked his name not be published said he usually empties his apartment in the al-Shisha district near Mina to sublet it to pilgrims.
“I rent my apartment for SR17,000 ($4,533) and then sublet it to pilgrims for over SR13,000 ($3,466) for the few days of the Haj,” he said. “I take my family to Jeddah where I rent a furnished apartment for SR2,500 ($667) and end up making a lot of money in a few days.”
Commenting on the subletting of buildings during the Haj, lawyer Badr al-Rouqi said such practices are illegal, as tenants do not have licenses from the municipal authorities.
“Although subletting is financially feasible, there are tremendous risks involved, especially in the event of an accident or fire,” al-Rouqi said, adding that people who sublet their buildings risk severe punishment if caught.
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