#port_explosion #rent_dollarization #abusive_eviction
Rayyan and Eviction Harassment
Rayyan had been living for 4 years in a small apartment in a neighborhood in Bourj Hammoud, along with her husband and 8 children, the oldest of whom is 18 years old and the youngest 1 year old.
After her husband was physically injured by the port explosion, he had to start working as a daily worker with no fixed income. The family became primarily dependent on aid from UN programmes.
Previously, Rayyan had a verbal rent agreement with the owner, the monthly rent amount of 565,000 L.L.. However, since September of last year, the owner had been imposing recurrent, unlawful rent increases. He first increased the monthly rent to 600,000 L.L., and later started demanding 1,000,000 L.L. monthly. After one of the NGOs started helping Rayyan pay off her accumulated rent, the owner started demanding 1,500,000 per month, and stopped paying water, electricity and internet bills, expenses which were previously included in the rent amount as per their verbal agreement.
Rayyan has informed the owner of her inability to afford this increase, and tried to speak with him to reach a reasonable rent amount. He refused to listen, arguing that the amount he is asking for is lower than the current market prices, while referencing another tenant in the building who was ready to pay rent in “fresh” dollars. The owner went on to cut off water and internet from the apartment, and started harassing Rayyan daily, showing up at her apartment and yelling at her, while sending her abusive text messages threatening her with eviction. He constantly reminded her that he can get his apartment back even if it meant moving his furniture in and forcefully living with her family.
Rayyan contacted the Monitor after being advised to do so by one of the NGOs that were supporting her. At that point, the owner had informed her that he had rented a truck to move her family’s belongings out of the apartment, and that he would come by on that evening at 7:00pm either to collect rent at the increased rate, or to move into the apartment after having evicted her and her family. Rayyan had managed to put together 1,500,000 L.L. and paid it to the owner after he pressured her, before the Monitor lawyer was able to intervene. While the owner refrained from evicting the family, he refused to provide them with electricity unless they pay an additional 500,000 L.L.
The Monitor’s lawyer suggested that they negotiate with the owner or file a complaint against him with the public prosecutor, but Rayyan had already decided to leave the apartment at the end of January as she was no longer able to tolerate the owner’s abuse and threats, and was afraid for her children’s emotional wellbeing as the owner frightened them.
After she moved into a new apartment in the same neighborhood, Rayyan continued to communicate with the Monitor for legal advice and to be educated on how to protect her housing rights in her newly rented apartment.
Housing Monitor (HM) is a community housing tool developed by Public Works Studio to protect and advance housing rights in Lebanon. The tool is used by residents from various marginalized social groups to report on housing vulnerabilities and eviction threats. In response, Public Works Studio provides individualized legal and social support, mobilizes tenants around shared grievances, and identifies any trends in housing injustices, to then advocate reform.