Abu Dhabi tenant told he is ‘outside of the law’ after new landlord buys property

Mario Volpi advises an Abu Dhabi tenant who is being asked to leave by the new landlord.

I am an Abu Dhabi tenant who received notice that my unit was being sold, although I have never received any formal notice. The (former) landlord wrote to me in December to inform me that they were selling my unit and they needed me to sign a release of lease to facilitate the sale. I refused to sign, as it would leave me without a lease. As an alternative, I was asked to sign an interim lease agreement (covering the balance of the term of 48 days) with the new (alleged) landlord so that the rents and deposit could be assigned to him.

The new landlord wrote to me in early January stating that he wanted to move into the apartment and requested that I confirm my intention to vacate or renew at an increased amount (of course). I replied that the law required me to receive two months' notice, and that the (former) landlord had already communicated the new rental amount, which was the same as previously. I indicated my desire to renew for one year at the current rate, but requested clarification of what he'd require in case I needed to vacate early (ie his penalty terms). He has not responded to me ever since. My situation is:

1. I have now entered into a 48-day lease, renewable at the same terms, ie 48 days at current rate. Should he wish to alter this, he needs to file a court case.

2. As I did not give notice to vac­ate, the original lease continues in effect, as is, ie one year at current rate.

3. The new landlord says we are now outside of the law and that he doesn’t have to give two months’ notice because the interim agreement waives this requirement. The interim lease is the old standard lease which says that renewal is at the discretion of the landlord and if the tenant does not renew on the expiry date, he will have to pay the amount demanded.

I want to get some clarity as I do not want to have a case filed in court against me. SS, Abu Dhabi

When a property that a tenant is living in is sold to another “landlord”, the tenant’s position does not change from the previous time. The lease passes over to the new landlord and all the previous terms and conditions remain the same. To alter or cancel the tenancy contract, the new landlord must give the tenant at least two months’ not­ice in writing before the end of the lease. In short, although you had an interim agreement, this was only produced to tide you over during the sales period. The original contract was not cancelled and therefore is the one that has to be adhered to. I believe your position is clear, you want to renew the agreement at the same rate as before, and the law will allow for this. If the new landlord still doesn’t agree, let him file a case against you at the rental committee in the municipality.

I would like to send a non-renewal notice via public notary or registered mail to the tenant who is currently occupying my apartment. We signed a new contract for one year in February this year. Time-wise, is it still OK to do that based on Abu Dhabi regulations? AB, Abu Dhabi

For rental properties in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, if you as the landlord decide not to ­carry on and rent your property to your current tenant, all that is required is that you give your tenant two months’ notice in writing before the expiry of the agreement. As you have just renewed the contract, the statu­tory time to inform them of your intentions would be before December 10, 2016. Sending the notice via notary public or registered mail is a legal requirement in Dubai. Sending it this way in Abu Dhabi is good practice and will ensure confirmation that the tenant has received it, but not a legal requirement.

Mario Volpi is a real estate professional who has worked within the industry for the past 31 years in London and Dubai. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and they do not reflect in any way those of the institutions to which he is affiliated. It does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Please send any questions to mariovolpi64@gmail.com