Dubai landlord agrees to freeze rent for 2 years - but hikes it 15%

Tenant is told the two-year rental rule - where rent in Dubai could not be raised by a landlord for 24 months after a contract was signed - no longer exists. Mario Volpi advises.
Mario Volpi advises a Dubai tenant whose rent has been increased by 15 per cent. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Mario Volpi advises a Dubai tenant whose rent has been increased by 15 per cent. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

My landlord increased the rent in 2013 based on the Rera calculator. We agreed and paid the increase as he assured us he would not increase the rent for the coming year (ie this year’s renewal in 2014). However, we were very surprised when he sent us an email around three months ago asking for another 15 per cent increase this year as well. When we inquired about the increase and referred him back to his email, he did not reply for more than two months. Then two days ago (with the renewal due) he sent the contract with the 15 per cent increased rent. In his written letter, he has stated that the law preventing rents from being increased for two years consecutively has been scrapped. Is this true? And as he issued the rental increase notice through email (not through any notary public), is this a valid notice? SG, Dubai

The two-year no increase in rent law you are referring to forms part of Law 26 of 2007. This law has been amended by Law 33 of 2008 and I can confirm that it’s no longer valid.

Your landlord can increase the rent each year, but only if two points are satisfied. The first is that any changes to the contract can only be effected as long as 90 days’ notice before the expiration of the agreement is given by either party. If this notice window is missed, no changes can be made and this obviously includes the rent. If the 90-day notice has been respected, then the second point is to see what the permissible rental increase is by checking the Rera rent calculator. Assuming the above was adhered to, notifying you of the increase via email is allowed. Only the 12-month notification to vacate has to be served either via notary public or registered mail.

I want to find out about a tenant’s right to have a maintenance contract in place. Do you know where I can find official documents for a landlord’s responsibilities? NH, Dubai

Under law 26 of 2007, which is the law regulating the relationship between landlords and tenants in the emirate of Dubai, you will find article 16, which states that the landlord shall, during the validity of the tenancy contract, be liable for undertaking maintenance of the property and shall rectify any defects or faults that effect the tenant’s intended benefit from the property, unless the two parties agree otherwise. You can read this law in detail by going to the Land Department website. Go to the rental increase calculator and there you will find the laws button. Click this and then click law 26 of 2007. Here you will be able to read not just about the landlord’s obligations but the tenant’s obligations too.

I have been renting a flat for the last year in Al Nahda2 in Dubai for Dh50,000. Unfortunately the contract renewal date has already passed and I have tried contacting the landlord by official mail and fax but to no avail. What is my next step? AR, Dubai

It is the responsibility of both parties to get in touch with each other 90 days’ before the expiry of the contract to agree terms and any changes for the next renewal. If there is no communication and the renewal date expires, the fact that you wish to renew will mean that the tenancy agreement automatically renews under the same terms as before. My advice would be to prepare your rental cheques in the name of the landlord then make an appointment at Dubai Municipality to hand over the cheques. It will get in touch with the owner to renew the contract and give the cheques to him. Given that your renewal date has already expired, the amount of rent for this year will be the same as last year as the owner has obviously missed the 90-day window.

Mario Volpi is a Dubai property analyst and has worked in the industry in the emirate and in London for the past 30 years. Send any questions to

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

Published: December 10, 2014 04:00 AM


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