(MENAFN - Arab News) The General Court in Dammam has started to jail people who have built up huge arrears on their home rental payments.
The courts have decided to issue harsher punishment because of the increasing number of people who have not been paying their rents.
Previously landlords were allowed to evict tenants from their property for not paying up after giving them a month's grace to find alternative accommodation.
A woman here who was sentenced to prison complained bitterly about the ruling against her and said it would be difficult for her three daughters to survive without her.
"I was surprised by the verdict of the General Court in Dammam that I should go to prison because I have arrears of about SR26000. I always thought that the penalty was to leave the house or that the tenant would be granted a month's grace to look for another house" she said.
" am a divorced woman and the sole provider for my three daughters. The check I receive from social insurance is not enough to even pay the rent" she said.
A source said the court would imprison men and women who do not pay their rent. "The harshest penalty is prison. In some cases people have built up arrears of over SR50000" said the source.
The source said that the court would only imprison people after landlords have sent them two warnings in writing and given them time to find alternative accommodation.
Ahmad Al-Subaie a lawyer said the courts would only sentence people to jail if they have significantly harmed plaintiffs financially. "However widows and divorced women should get lighter penalties based on discussions between the courts and social affairs departments. Such people should be given priority in the housing program launched by the Ministry of Housing" he said.