10-year jail for Dubai residents found guilty of forging tenancy contracts

Dubai: Dubai residents are being warned against drawing up fake attested tenancy contracts to obtain visas for family members.

Dubai Courts recently looked into many cases of people used forged tenancy contracts and water and electricity bills to present them to the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affair (GDRFA) in Dubai to renew their residency or to get visas for family members. An attested lease agreement is required for all tenants in the UAE to obtain visas for family members.

In a recent case at the Dubai Court of First Instance, a 35-year-old Syrian man was charged with forging a tenancy contract from Shrarjah as well as the water and electricity bill to get a visa issued for his son.

An Emirati employee at GDRFA in Dubai said in records that the defendant produced the documents while applying for a residency visa for his son. “I checked the number of the tenancy contract via the website of Sharjah Municipality and discovered that it wasn’t attested. The stamp was suspicious. The water and electricity bill was the same,” he said.

The defendant looked confused when the employee questioned him about his residency. “He admitted later that the documents were fake.”

According to Dubai Public Prosecution, another person, who is still at large, provided forged documents to the defendant.

In a separate case, a 36-year-old Sudanese woman is waiting for the court verdict after her tenancy contract was found to be forged and used to procure a residency permit for her mother.

In a third case, Dubai Court of First Instance sentenced a man to three months in jail for forging a tenancy contract and using it to apply for a residency visa for his wife.

What the law says

According to Wageh Amin Abdelaziz, senior legal adviser at World Centre Advocates and Legal Consultants, applicants whose tenancy contracts are found to be forged could get up to 10 years in jail as per Article 217 of the UAE Penal Code.

Wageh Amin Abdelaziz

“Many people think it’s a minor offence that can only result in the dismissal of the application. They don’t know that it amounts to a serious crime,” Abdelaziz told Gulf News. “Forgery of an official document is a crime regardless of the reason behind it. Legislations in the UAE specifically deal with the crime.”

Article 216 of the same law states that forgery of a document entails alteration of the truth and is liable to cause harm with the intention of using it as a genuine document.

“Alteration of a document is a forgery, whether by deleting or changing the words, numbers, marks, or pictures included in such a document. Creation of a false signature or altering a genuine signature is also a method of forgery,” added Abdelaziz.

However, the law mentions that anyone who forges a copy of an official document and uses it can be jailed for up to five years. Anyone aiding in forging an official document shall also be punished as per the law.

“People should not underestimate the serious consequences of forging tenancy contracts or bills as even if the judge passes a lenient sentence, the person will face police action,” Abdelaziz said.

He said that a woman sought his help after she was duped into buying a tenancy contract advertised online. Later she found the document was fake and was charged with forgery and using forged documents. “We urge residents to follow the law and not resort to shortcuts as the repercussions are not worth the risk. People can face prison and deportation,” said Abdelaziz.

Having a tenancy contract is a must if a resident applies to renew visas of family members at GDRFA-Dubai.

In 2010, the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) in Dubai announced that all rental contracts should be registered at the Ejari online portal.

The lease registration through Ejari is linked to the immigration server, allowing authorities to verify the real occupant of the property covered by the tenancy contract.

Salient features of the law:

Article 216 of UAE Penal Code

Forgery of a document consists of any alteration of the truth by any method that is liable to cause harm with the intention to use the document as genuine.

The following shall be considered as a method of forgery:

Alteration of a document, whether by deleting or changing the words, numbers, marks, or pictures included in or on such document.

Creation of a false signature or seal or by altering a genuine signature, seal or fingerprint.

Taking by surprise or by fraud the signature, seal or fingerprint of a person on a document without being aware of its content or without valid consent thereof.

Creation or counterfeiting of a document and ascribing it to another person.

Filling in a blank document containing a signature, a seal or a fingerprint without the consent of the owner of such signature, seal or fingerprint.

Assuming or replacing the identity of another in a document designated for such purpose.

Alteration of the truth of a document immediately upon its preparation.

Article 217 of UAE Penal Code

Unless otherwise provided, forging an official written instrument shall be sanctioned by imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years and the penalty for forging an informal instrument shall be jail sentence.

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