Can someone on tourist visa rent UAE property?

Dubai tenant has lost his job and subsequently his residency visa but wants to remain in the property and renew the lease. Mario Volpi is here to help.
Dubai Marina. Mario Volpi advises a Dubai tenant who no longer has a residency visa but wants to stay in the city.  Razan Alzayani / The National
Dubai Marina. Mario Volpi advises a Dubai tenant who no longer has a residency visa but wants to stay in the city. Razan Alzayani / The National

I have rented an apartment in Dubai since 2009. When originally signing the lease, I was a resident in Dubai (on an employment visa). Subsequently I lost my job, but have been staying on in Dubai as a “long-term tourist” while maintaining my bank account. Initially I had no problems extending my lease, but now the Landlord has refused to extend my lease by another year unless I submit a visa copy to him. Under the given circumstances, does he have the right to do so? PM, Dubai

When any new resident decides to rent a property the question of the visa status is of paramount importance and needs to be in place before moving in. Without it, the tenant cannot get services connected such as DEWA or registering for Ejari and so on. In your case you obviously had the visa but unfortunately lost your job some time later. You are not allowed to rent property without a proper visa and a tourist visa would not be regarded as permanent despite you having, I assume, a European passport and therefore being able to service this “long term tourist” situation. Without a proper visa you cannot buy a car for the same reason. It is the permanence of an employment visa that gives it credence. Your landlord is right to insist on seeing this document before issuing you with a renewal.

I have had the same tenant in my apartment for five years and we are due to renew by the end of this month. The contract we have both signed is a non-standard contract. Some of the points we agreed include the below:

• Renewal of the tenancy will be at the discretion of the landlord.

• The tenant has to submit 60 days’ written notice, prior to the end of the contract period to the landlord before vacating the premises or before renewing the contract.

• The landlord has to submit 30 days’ written notice, prior to the end of the contract period to the tenant to inform him of any changes in the rent and / or terms and conditions of the tenancy contract.

• Should the landlord decide to terminate the contract prior to the end of the period of tenancy, he/she must notify the tenant in writing at least 30 days prior to the required evacuation date. Rental fees paid by the tenant will be reimbursed by the landlord, pro-rata.

After some negotiation, we agreed to renew for Dh35,000 from June 1 this year and were due to sign this week. I mentioned to my tenant that I am also planning to sell the apartment so that this would be the final renewal between him and I. He then completely changed his mind about the renewal and has said now he will only pay the 15 per cent rise stated in the RERA calculator.

Does my contract mean anything? I thought it was legally binding between him and I. CL, Dubai

You are right that a contract is legally binding between two people that have agreed upon the terms as set out within it. Problems arise however when one party changes their mind in line with current legislation as is the case here.

I read your terms and conditions on your contract and have to say that while your tenant had (I assume) agreed to these terms, they do contravene the current Dubai rental laws.

Your first point is not correct, as the renewal of a tenancy is automatic unless the tenant does not wish to renew. I should clarify that the landlord can also not wish to renew for a few reasons, namely moving in himself or selling the property but then a 12-month notice period has to be served in the proper manner i.e. via notary public or registered mail. Your next two points are also not right as the law states that either party has to give the other 90 days’ notice to alter the contract in any way. Your final point is also misleading as the landlord can only terminate the contract prior to the end of the tenancy in only certain cases. For example, if the tenant fails to pay the rent within 30 days of the landlord’s notification, if the tenant subleases the property without your notification, if the tenant uses the property for purposes other than the purpose it was leased for or if the tenant uses the property for illegal or immoral activities. These clauses are all found under article 25 of law 33 of 2008.

To conclude, your contract ought to be respected, as it has been agreed between two parties but problems arise when one party realises it will suit them to stick to the letter of the law.

Mario Volpi is the managing director of Prestige Real Estate in Dubai (prestigedubai.com). He has 30 years of property industry experience in the emirate and London. Send any questions to mario@prestigedubai.com

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Readers are encouraged to seek appropriate independent legal advice

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Published: May 21, 2014 04:00 AM

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