Dubai landlord sends eviction notice to DIFC tenant via WhatsApp, is that valid?

Does a tenant living in DIFC have to be served a one-year notarised notice to vacate or a WhatsApp message is enough? The National's property expert Mario Volpi gives us his insights.
The issue of eviction notices from landlords and what is allowed and how to legally get tenants to vacate the properties has a recurring theme among questions sent to property expert Mario Volpi. Sarah Dea / The National
The issue of eviction notices from landlords and what is allowed and how to legally get tenants to vacate the properties has a recurring theme among questions sent to property expert Mario Volpi. Sarah Dea / The National

Does a tenant living in DIFC have to be served a one-year notarised notice to vacate? I had a contract that had “one year non-renewable” on it (which I heard is illegal anyway) and then in November my landlord sent me a WhatsApp message saying I had to leave in January. Before that he asked my permission to allow viewings, as he wanted to sell. I didn’t object, as I thought it would be no big deal if I had a new landlord. However, he then told me he wants to live in it himself, claiming his family is going back to India and he is all alone and doesn’t need his villa. However, there is a live Dubizzle ad – first posted in October – for the sale of the property and the landlord has more property in Dubai too. I’m contemplating buying the property myself, but he is asking more than I would pay. So what is my legal position? Should I renew the rental contract at last year’s rent/terms? DG, Dubai

The confusion with the DIFC lies with how it has its own jurisdiction and separate courts from Dubai. Having said that, it does follow the Dubai rental laws. This is confirmed by the DIFC being represented on the Rera rental calculator. The only difference is when a dispute arises between a landlord and or tenant. These cases are heard at the DIFC courts, not Dubai courts. Your landlord will therefore have to give you the year’s notice through registered mail or notary but, as stated above, if your landlord disputes this he will have to open a case at the DIFC. Assuming he has not given you the required 90 days’ notice, the rent should remain the same as last year. If you are contemplating buying the property yourself, I recommend you make a good case for your negotiations by researching prices, not just from the web portals but by speaking to surveyors and checking information found on the Land Department website. Set up a meeting with your landlord and show him that you are ready to put down a deposit to prove you are serious about buying; this way he may be more amenable to accept your offer. If you require finance be sure to organise this before any meeting.

I live in Dubai Outsource Zone in a studio flat. Last year I renewed my contract for Dh22,000 for one year. My renewal is due again on January 15, 2015, so how much can the landlord increase the rent by this year according to the Rera rent calculator? AK, Dubai

The rent for a studio in Academic Outsource zone is in the range of Dh25,000 to Dh30,000 per year. Your rent is 11 per cent to 20 per cent less than the average similar rent in the area, so your landlord is entitled to a maximum increase of 5 per cent, or Dh1,100 per year. Please remember, though, that for the above to take effect your landlord has to give you 90 days’ notice from the renewal date of any changes to the contract, and this obviously means the rent too. As January 15 is fewer than 90 days away from now, legally the landlord cannot raise the rent at all.

Is it legal for my landlord to give me a 12-month eviction notice stating that she wants to sell the house? Can you please advise, as my landlord has provided me with a notarised eviction notice stating that she wants to sell. ZJ, Dubai

Your landlord has every right to sell the property and to effect your eviction, she has to issue you a 12 months’ notice either via notary public or registered mail. As your landlord has done this already, she has complied with the law and so the notice is perfectly legal. If the property remains unsold even after the expiration of the 12 months, the law is silent as to whether you have to vacate or not.

Mario Volpi is the managing director of Ocean View real estate and has worked in the industry in the UAE and in London for the last 30 years. Send any questions to mario@oceanviewdubai.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: December 24, 2014 04:00 AM

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