Residents in Qatar, where ex-pats outnumber locals nine to one, say that the increased demand and scarcity of rooms in the run-up to the World Cup has enabled landlords to raise rents by more than 40 percent in many cases on short notice, forcing tenants to pack up and face an uncertain future.
According to the Associated Press, the Qatari government acknowledged an “increased demand for housing” and encouraged tenants who believe they have been wronged to file a complaint with the government’s rental disputes committee.
About 1.2 million fans are expected to arrive next month for the World Cup.
Local organizers have attempted to allay fears of a housing crisis by pointing out that Qatar has reserved 130,000 rooms, which are available through the official website. The rooms, which are in hotels, resorts, specially built housing, and three cruise ships at the port, are said to start at around $80, though it’s unclear how many low-cost options are available, AP reported.
The government said in a statement to AP that a price ceiling applies to 80 percent of the rooms. It has not responded to questions about whether and how the cap has been implemented, and the ceiling — which is approximately $780 for a five-star resort room — can go higher depending on the room’s amenities.
Many long-term hotel and apartment residents claim they are being pushed out to make way for players, staffers, and fans.
Residents who are scrambling to find new homes due to rent increases say it is nearly impossible to find suitable housing within their budgets. On Airbnb, most two-bedroom apartments on the Pearl, an artificial island off the coast of Doha, cost more than $1,000 per night. On the site, luxury apartments can fetch up to $200,000 per month.
Consulting group ValuStrat says apartments on the island are being rented for an average of $2,580 a month, up from $2,300 in the fourth quarter of last year. A spacious three-bedroom villa more than 120 kilometers from central Doha has been advertised on Airbnb for $60,000 a month.
Moreover, properties for an entire year are being advertised for $1 million on Airbnb and Booking.com.