Hi all, my name is Lauren and I moved here fairly recently from South Africa. I would just like to share my experience and hope that it may help some new expats to be a little more vigilant and cautious than my husband and I were. Sorry its so long.
We've been thinking of moving from our current apartment in Salmiya because of the constant noise, filth in the roads, generally being in a busy lower income area and lack of amenities such as gym and pool, however when my husband signed the lease of our current apartment, it was all in Arabic so he didn't know that we needed to give a 2 month notice period as opposed to 1 month.
Anyway, we gave our notice and the harres notified my husband that he will see what he could do to get us out of our lease earlier.
So I started hunting for places. I found this lovely 2 bedroom apartment that was within our price range and had the extra amenities we were looking for and it was even closer to my daughters school. So we were happy. When we called the number on the advertisement, we explained to the guy (Mahmoud) that we are required to give a 2 month notice period before we can get out of our lease and discussed the possibility of them holding the flat. Mahmoud told us that he has been here for a long time and what our current landlords are doing is completely illegal and he assured us that it will be fine to move. He said that he will call our current landlord and make sure the matter is resolved. So my husband and I, being as trusting and as naiive as we are, believed that it would be OK. Mahmoud said there will be absolutely no issues in giving a one month notice, and further went on to explain that because there have been a lot of enquiries for the unit, we need to pay a deposit of 200kwd to secure it. Now, to us, 200kwd is a lot of money as my husband is the only one working at the moment and starting up in this country isn't cheap, however we paid the money in good faith and believe that this guy had our back.
We gave the money to the harres of the new building and requested a receipt. The harres said that they don't have receipts but all is fine, we must just send all our information to Mahmoud so he can draw up the contract. Reading my story as I am writing this, I think to myself, how the hell could we have been so stupid?? We would never have been so trusting back home, but here...we kind of thought that things were different.
Four days later, during the Eid celebrations the harres of our current building said to us that he tried to help us but the company that owns the building said there is no way we can get out of the 2 month agreement. We definitely weren't going to take a chance and risk getting a travel ban so my husband immediately got on the phone with Mahmoud to let him know and requested that either they hold the flat for us for another month as we paid the deposit or simply refund the deposit. Mahmoud refused either way. He again assured us that what our current landlord was doing was illegal. My husband told him that we signed a contract stating two months notice, we never ever got a contract from him, nor the receipt which we asked for. Were we expected to pay rent for two places, or throw away 200kwd for absolutely nothing!? Mahmoud's argument was that it was for their commission for the transaction that had taken place in giving us the flat...but we still had NO contract, NOTHING was signed and NO receipt. He said the company that owns the flat has refused to pay us our money back and has also refused to give us the keys to move in, so basically with absolutely no remorse, we have lost everything. Oh and they are refusing to give us our receipt as it was a "gentleman's agreement". We asked Mahmoud for the number and contact person of the company that he spoke of, he replied that he didn't know who they were and that we need to correspond with the harres. Eventually after being messed around and being thrown around in circles of BS - being told that he would pay the money back when we threatened to call the police, to being told we are getting nothing because this fictitious company has decided not to refund the money as the receipt says " non refundable" (Oh, the receipt that we requested but never got because we were told the company is refusing to give it to us). Then being told to meet him at a different location so he could pay us a portion (50kwd BIG whoop!), to him not even being at that location at that time and telling us he is not coming anymore.
We then decided to get a Kuwaiti friend of ours to assist us in the whole matter. He did a phenomenal job in threatening legal action and also eventually got Mahmoud to admit that he is not working for the company and that he is working for himself, which by the way is illegal as he is a foreigner (did i mention he is Egyptian?) After hundreds of messages back and forth, threats, YouTube police sirens in the background of phonecalls so that they would believe that we were taking this further, we eventually got every penny back. Which even then had to be grabbed out of the harres' hand as he wasn't going to give it all.
Anyway, this is a few lessons learnt: TRUST NO ONE! Always have everything in writing, even though things are usually done a little differently here in Kuwait and NEVER sign anything you have no idea how to read (Duh!)...oh and please don't trust this guy Mahmoud, he is apparently a broker for several places which I don't even think the landlords know about these transactions. His contact number is ****
Reason : To avoid diffamation, contact infos moderated.