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In Damascus, an Army of Brokers to Circumvent Residents’ Refusal to Rent Houses to Iranians

Iranian officials have been seeking new places in Damascus in recent months, according to Syria TV.
In Damascus, an Army of Brokers to Circumvent Residents’ Refusal to Rent Houses to Iranians

Some brokers engage in unethical practices by including a clause in leases called the “hospitable” clause. This clause allows the tenant to falsely claim that they are involved in business activities and occasionally host foreign guests as part of their trade.

Notably, Iranians typically rent homes for a full year and fulfill their contractual obligations by paying the full rent amount, even if they decide to vacate the premises before the expiration of the lease agreement.

During their stay in Syria, the Iranians followed a policy of changing places from time to time, and not staying in one place for a long time, especially recently after the Israeli raids that affected their headquarters in various governorates, especially in Damascus. 

Following the targeting of the Iranian consulate in April, in which senior commanders of the Quds Force militia were killed, some thought that Iran would withdraw its senior generals from Syria out of fear. The reality proved the opposite, as Iranian commanders and advisers are still present in several neighbourhoods and outskirts of the Syrian capital.

In a previous report, the Syria TV website disclosed that people living near the Iranian embassy and on the Mezzeh highway were selling their homes due to fear of recurring Israeli strikes endangering their families.

In this follow-up investigative report, the Syria TV website uncovers a network of Syrian brokers working for Iranian militias in the real estate sector in Damascus. Their objective is to secure apartments for Iranian individuals, given the reluctance of many residents to deal with them due to the repeated Israeli targeting of their positions and the subsequent risk of losing their homes.

Declared rejection of Iranian presence 

As the number of houses for sale near the Iranian embassy increased, a large number of people rushed to leave the area due to fear for their safety. Consequently, the residents refused to sell or rent their homes to any Iranian party, be it military militias, Iranian companies, or even diplomatic personnel from the Iranian embassy.

Abu Rajab, a Damascene Sunni who converted to Shiism and has been working for Iranian militias for almost five years, talks about the difficulty he faces persuading people to lease or sell their homes to Iranian parties. This difficulty has increased recently, particularly after the consulate was targeted on April 1, and before that, commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were targeted in a building in Mezze Western villas on January 20.

“People initially refrained from speaking publicly, fearing for their safety,” he explains. “Now, they are more vocal and express their refusal to have Iranians living among them. They do not want to be perceived as collaborators.”

High figures 

According to Syria TV, a homeowner in the Mezzeh area of oriental villas shared that the Iranians offered him an annual rent of 450 million Syrian pounds, which is equivalent to $450,000. However, he firmly refused to rent his house once he discovered that they were associated with an Iranian phosphate company called “Milad Company”.

Through its sources, Syria TV conducted an investigation into the location of the mentioned Iranian company and found that its headquarters are in close proximity to the al-Ebba al-Arabi Private School in the same area.

Speaking under the pseudonym Abu Hassan, the homeowner stated, “Even when the Syrian broker accompanying them offered me an additional one hundred million Syrian pounds, raising the annual rent to 550 million Syrian pounds, I declined due to concerns for the safety of my neighbours and their objections.”

Abu Rajab, who has encountered difficulties securing a house for Iranian pilgrims, including the well-known Hajj Akbari, revealed that some homeowners now engage in arguments when finalizing the deal. They tend to procrastinate on renting the house and insist that the offered price is too low. If the Iranians agree to increase the amount, the homeowners directly express their refusal to rent to Iranians or express no interest in renting their house at all.

The predicament of diplomats 

According to a recording obtained by the broker website Syria TV, Abu Rajab discussed his challenges in finding a suitable house for the Iranian deputy ambassador in May. He detailed his efforts to leverage his network of relationships, including brokers and real estate offices in the Mezzeh area, to secure a high-quality house for the deputy ambassador, emphasizing the diplomatic nature of the residence. He mentioned a Lebanese national named Haidar al-Madani, also known as “Abu Reda”, among those involved.

Despite receiving favourable offers, negotiations with homeowners in Mezzeh proved futile as they consistently withdrew upon learning the potential occupants were Iranians. Subsequently, Abu Rajab extended his search to upscale areas such as Abu Roumaneh and al-Maliki in central Damascus to avoid embarrassment for the deputy ambassador.

Similar to the challenges faced in Mezzeh, he finally managed to secure a house in Abu Roumaneh, impressing the deputy ambassador. The property, featuring 3 bedrooms and two salons, was agreed upon for an annual rent of $36,000, paid in cash and dollars. However, the owner ultimately decided against renting the house due to objections from his brother who intended to reside there with his family.

Abu Rajab noted that Iranians were previously concentrated in Mezzeh for work and housing, Kafarsouseh for housing only, and Sayyida Zeinab for various purposes. However, due to the need to conceal their presence and avoid gathering in one location, they have been seeking new places in Damascus in recent months.


This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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