By Majd Othman
KUWAIT: The high cost of living and the advent of the holiday travel season is driving some expats in Kuwait to take unexpected actions to cover their traveling expenses during summer. Many expats are subletting their rented apartments for the duration of the time they are visiting their home countries — around two to three months.
This action is not only illegal under Kuwaiti law, which prevents subletting apartments and may expose them to accountability, but it can also lead to many other problems, starting from transmission of infectious diseases due to using the same furnishings and household items, disturbing the neighbors by bringing in strangers, and loss of rights if the lessors are scammed or their home is vandalized by the temporary renters.
Kuwait Times contacted several expats who sublet their rental apartments, who revealed they are forced to do so due to rising inflation that is affecting everything and making their life harder, especially families that need many necessities of life to survive. Shaimaa Ahmad told Kuwait Times that she started thinking to do this after the pandemic, as prices skyrocketed, specifically of airfares. She said they barely managed to pay for the tickets that cost them almost KD 700 for the family, which includes three children.
Shaimaa pointed out that she wouldn’t have been able to travel unless she recovered part of the money spent on tickets, adding her friend advised her to sublet her apartment during her holiday. She said she wasn’t able to visit her country in the four years due to the pandemic and financial responsibilities, but she managed to do so after renting out her apartment.
Rasha Sulaiman told Kuwait Times subletting rental apartments has become very popular in the last couple of years among expats due to several advantages. Firstly, they do not have to pay rent during their absence; secondly, appliances such as the fridge and air conditioners can be maintained, and thirdly, the apartment doesn’t become musty as people are using it.
But Lubna Mohyi said her family regretted renting out their apartment, as when they came back from their trip, she was shocked by the level of damage in the apartment. She said she found many broken items, the walls were filthy and the kitchen was full of insects due to lack of cleaning by the subtenants. Lubna added that because it is illegal to sublet, she couldn’t do anything about it or file a complaint, lamenting it cost her much money to repair the damage.
Despite being illegal, social media, especially Facebook, is full of advertisements that offer flats on temporary rent by expats. A post on social media on this topic can result in hundreds of responses offering such apartments. In addition, some post their phone numbers openly, offering discounts and other offers to attract people.
Kuwait Times asked many lessors if their renters can be exposed to any problems with the authorities or neighbors. But most of them said neighbors are not an issue, as this is a well-known practice, especially in overcrowded areas such as Hawally, Salmiya, Farwaniya, Mahboula and others. Some also said they won’t do so without the approval of neighbors on the same floor to prevent any complaints. Kuwait Times tried to contact authorities in Kuwait to ask about any consequences renters can face, but received no response.