Several landlords in Saudi Arabia are reluctant to rent out their apartments to Saudi nationals because they believe their compatriots will not pay up on time and trash their properties, the Saudi Gazette reports.
These landlords, according to a report by al-Bilad newspaper on Tuesday, prefer expatriate tenants because they are apparently more committed to the terms of the rent contract and maintain the apartments.
“Though the contractual relationship is the same between the landlord and tenant regardless of their nationality, many Saudis believe citizens are less committed when it comes to paying rent,” said Ali al-Ghamdi, a realtor.
He said past experiences created a common belief among landlords that many citizens do not pay their rent regularly or that they may vacate the apartments without giving any notice. “Some Saudi landlords will feel embarrassed to ask their countrymen to pay outstanding rent,” he said.
Ahmed al-Qarni, owner of a real estate office, agreed with al-Ghamdi. “There is a strong belief among landlords that expatriates are better tenants and pay up on time,” he said.
Ahmed al-Salami, another owner of a real estate office, recalled a bitter experience with a Saudi tenant. He said he rented an apartment out to a Saudi government employee who then procrastinated in paying his rent.
He said: “The payments accumulated for three months and he asked me to reduce them so he could pay them off.
“One night he secretly took his luggage and left. “I went to his workplace but was told that he was fired a long time back. I could not trace him or get my money back.”
Al-Salami, however, does not believe all Saudi tenants are bad. “Many of them are honest people who do not only pay the rent on time but keep the house clean and neat,” he said.
Abdullah al-Amri, a building owner, said to avoid embarrassment with Saudi tenants he would rent out to them through a real estate company. “This has saved me a lot of embarrassment, especially if the Saudi tenant was a friend or a relative,” he said.
Ibrahim al-Zubaidi, a citizen, asked landlords not to exert pressure on the tenants by forcing them to pay increased rent rates or leave.
“Sometimes the tenants, who may not know where to go, will accept the rent increase without question,” he said.
He also said he would not shy away from taking a Saudi tenant to court if he refused to pay the rent on time.
Omar al-Madini, a realtor, said many tenants have preferred to find houses in the remote southern Jeddah areas and others where the rent is cheap. He said low-income citizens prefer to go to underdeveloped areas where the rent rates are low and paid on a monthly basis.
Ali al-Otaibi, a building owner, asked all building owners, especially in developed areas, to be more merciful to tenants.
He noted the annual rent of an apartment in these areas may go above SR30,000 ($7999)and said the solution to this problem lies in constructing high residential towers.
“The government should also expedite the granting of loans and pieces of lands to citizens to build their own houses,” he said.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on March 12, 2014.