Dubai landlord fails to return Dh9,500 deposit after tenant wrongly evicted

A landlord refusing to hand back a deposit has violated the law in several ways, advises Mario Volpi.

A Dubai resident requires advice after moving out having signed a non-renewable contract. Jaime Puebla - The National
Powered by automated translation

Last year our landlord gave us a "one year non renewable" contract, mentioning verbally that she wants to sell. We vacated the villa at the end of the tenancy but the landlord has not returned our Dh9,500 deposit. It has been two months since we vacated and she will not reply to our calls, text messages or emails. On top of that I visited the villa out of curiosity only to discover it is has been rented to someone else and not sold. Unfortunately I do not have a formal eviction notice from the landlord stating she wanted to sell or even an Ejari-registered contract. What are my chances of fighting my rights in this case? PS, Dubai

Despite the fact you do not have an Ejari certificate, I would still go and speak to the rental dispute committee to explain the situation. Your landlord has violated several points of the law.

A landlord cannot request eviction from a tenant unless he/she does so in a prescribed manner, ie giving 12 months’ notice to vacate upon expiry of the tenancy contract. The tenancy agreement cannot have a non-renewable clause in it as this is against the law. Lastly, your landlord is not allowed to keep the deposit unless he/she was using it to bring back the property to the same state of decoration as it was given to you or if there were any repairs to be made. The landlord has broken many parts of the law, but your case may be weakened due to the tenancy not being registered at Ejari. Speak to the rental committee, but if it was up to me I would definitely file a case against her just to get your deposit back.

I have been a tenant of an apartment in International City since last summer. It is due for renewal now but there has been no intimation from my landlord for any changes. I am interested in renewing my contract but I am afraid of a higher rent demand from him. What are my options if he asks for a higher rent? And how much can he renew for? AR, Dubai

If you wish to stay on in your apartment, I advise contacting your landlord as soon as possible, although you are no longer within the 90-day window so by law, no changes to the existing contract will be allowed and your renewal should take place as per last year’s terms and conditions. If there is no contact by the landlord note that a tenancy contract renews automatically anyway unless terminated by the tenant. Your landlord is not allowed to increase the rent irrespective of what the rental calculator states is the correct amount. If he does not agree, speak to the rental dispute committee and file a case against him. You are within your rights to renew your lease at the same rate as the last term.

I have had a tenant in my apartment for the last two years. He is paying Dh167,500 per year with one cheque. The current tenancy contract ends soon and I would like to sell the apartment, but considering the market conditions potential buyers would probably want a vacant apartment. We served a legal notice from Dubai courts, delivered by DHL, which was received by the tenant on January 31 giving him 12 months' notice. The tenant has come back with a legal opinion that the 12 months start from the new tenancy contract which will start this summer and not from January 31 when he received the notice. MC, Dubai

I cannot confirm what a judge’s interpretation of Law 33 of 2008 will be, but I can quote what the law actually states and that is that the 12 months’ notice to vacate for reason of wishing to sell should be served upon expiry of the tenancy contract, not before. As per the law your tenant is correct, but I stress that the final decision will be made by a presiding judge, should this case go forward to the rental committee. If the same judge acts upon the letter of the law, then the notice that you gave in January is not valid as it was not sent upon expiry of the agreement. If your tenant does not recognise your 12 months’ notice, he must file a case against you or you against him, then you will both be at the discretion of the judge at the time of a hearing.

Mario Volpi has worked in the real estate industry in Dubai and in London for the past 30 years. Send any questions to mariovolpi@aol.com.

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only.

Follow The National's Business section on Twitter