With expatriates gearing up to flee Dubai, Kipp looks at the complications of disengaging with the once thriving emirate
January 19, 2009 2:18 by Dana El Baltaji
Banks and loans
There are two camps here: those who rent; and those who own the apartment/villa they’re living in. For those of you who rent, you’ll need to look at your rental contract to determine how much, if any, of your rent you’ll lose if you leave before the end of the contract period. If you’re leaving well before the determined period, you may have to negotiate with your landlord a deal; in the past, most tenants looked for people to replace them for the contracted period, thereby subletting the flat for the remaining months of their contracts. Once your contract period is over, the new tenants would then have to negotiate a new contract with the landlord.
As mentioned earlier, those of you who have just been fired or have left your jobs, your companies will send a letter to your bank where your salary is transferred to notify them that you are no longer employed. If you have a loan with the bank, the bank will freeze the funds in your account until you pay off the loan. The frustrating part is that you can’t use the frozen funds to pay off your debts, which makes this whole system utterly useless.
We contacted HSBC to ask what the procedure would be to pay off loans, and they said that you’d have to use outside funds to do so. When we asked why we can’t use the frozen funds to settle loans, they didn’t have an explanation. They said that it was the bank’s policy to do so. Unfortunately, most banks in Dubai have a similar policy.
According to HSBC, your funds will only be available to you once all your debts are cleared with the bank. The bank says that you can try to negotiate with a relationship manager, and explain that you have a job elsewhere, but if you’ve ever dealt with banks in the UAE, you’d know that ‘negotiating’ is a taxing experience that’ll usually end in tears.
Be prepared for this: set money aside in a separate account so that you aren’t stranded without cash. As for what happens to the mortgage, we couldn’t get a straight answer from Emirates NBD and HSBC. If you know, please email us.
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