Egaila complex tenants decry landlord’s ‘oppression’

Lessees ‘intimidated’ to vacate their stores

KUWAIT: Tenants at a shopping complex in Egaila are resisting its landlord’s strong-arm tactics to force them to vacate their stores. One of the lessees told Kuwait Times about the oppression and injustice he is facing after pouring his life’s savings in a small shop in the complex to earn a livelihood.

The man, who asked to remain anonymous, said he has received eviction notices although he still has six years remaining on his contract. He said the owner of the complex is trying to push all the renters out so he can do minor repairs and charge significantly higher rent to a new group of leasers.

The man said he invested more than KD 150,000 to open a restaurant in the complex, which is near a university, where a lot of students come to shop and eat. “I will not leave such a good location after spending money on the shop, decor and more than KD 8,000 on electricity,” he said.

After many shopkeepers refused to vacate, the owner cut power to most of them, broke up the sidewalks, wrecked the parking lot and sent goons to threaten the staff. The owner claims he is doing some repairs. “He destroyed the street and made the parking lot hard to get to. The workers he is sending are rude to my staff and threaten them if they try to move piles of bricks out of the way. The owner closed the doors that we used to access the bathrooms. Security men prevent staff and customers from entering to use the bathrooms inside the complex!” the restaurateur told Kuwait Times.

KUWAIT: Photos showing damages to parking spaces that the shop tenants accuse the landlord of creating to drive customers away in an attempt to force them to vacate their properties. —Photos by Joseph Shagra

Case filed
Some tenants of the complex moved out and agreed to rent another place in a food court near the mall, which is also owned by the same landlord. He offered to pay six months’ rent for evicting the shops. But the amount is less than what the lessees have invested, so more than 40 shops refused to take the deal. The renters also filed a case against the landlord to compensate them for the losses they have suffered.

“We believe the landlord has been using excuses as well as intimidation to try to push us out of the building. We are fighting to save our businesses – but ultimately, we are doing this to stand up for each other and the community of renters who are not always protected,” the restaurateur said.

Employees of a big name fast-food restaurant in the complex said they have a 10-year contract. “The owner cut power to the main entrance and ceiling lights two months ago, and we were threatened if we tried to get the electricity back. He has also told cleaners not to clean the street in front of our stores,” one of the workers said.

By Faten Omar

This article was published on 22/11/2017