Dubai tenant absconds and cheques bounce, but family refuse to leave property

Mario Volpi advises on the latest issues in the Dubai and Abu Dhabi property markets.

Mario Volpi advises on the latest property issues, including a Dubai landlord whose tenant has run off. Sarah Dea / The National
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I am a landlord and have an apartment which is rented out. The tenant left the country and the cheques provided bounced. However, the tenant’s family are still occupying the apartment and have refused to pay (basically giving false promises and not retuning calls). What course of action should I take? Please note that I have already reported the bounced cheques to Dubai police. YM, Dubai

My advice is that you should immediately file a case at the rental dispute settlement committee, whereby a 30-day notice will be issued to the tenant for non-payment of rent. If after this time the rent is still outstanding, the rental committee will advise on the following procedure to evict the tenant(s). Obviously they will not be allowed to remain in the property if rent has not been paid. The procedure is relatively straightforward, but legally more time may be given for the tenant to pay his outstanding amounts before he is actually evicted.

I have lived in a freehold apartment in Dubai for a few years and the lease is now up for renewal. The problem I have is that there is a clause in the contract stating that the rent will be increased by 5 per cent upon renewal. Every year this 5 per cent rent increase has matched the increase suggested by the Rera calculator, which is why I have not been too bothered. This year, however, according to the calculator I should remain on the same rent, which is why I wonder which rule applies, the law or the contract? RB, Dubai

Your tenancy contract is a binding agreement made by consenting parties (you and your landlord). When the agreement contradicts the law, it can still be enforceable as long as both parties agree on this, but if one of the parties doesn’t the contract cannot be above the law. Basically your landlord cannot enforce a 5 per cent increase if this increase is not allowed by law (unless you agree to the increase). It is therefore up to both of you to find a solution, or for you to explain the workings of the Rera rental calculator to your landlord that no increase is allowed for the next ten­ancy contract, despite what the agreement states.

Last year I was given a (notar­ised) 12-month notice on the basis of selling the house for my current contract. Now, just three months before the contract expires, I have received the following mail from the agency that represents the landlord saying: "Please be informed that the owner is still searching for a buyer of his property, as you know he wants to sell it. We would like to ask if you are willing to renew the contract for another year or not. If yes, kindly send your confirmation by email. The rent will be Dh151,800". This is a 10 per cent increase of my current lease and it is in line with the Rera rental increase calculator. I have two questions:

a. If I say that I want to renew, will that make the notice void and therefore I cannot be evicted?

b. If I move out as per eviction notice, is he allowed to rent the property out again, or does he have to observe the two-year rent blackout? RP, Dubai

If you renew, then the eviction notice does become void given the change in circumstances and agreement between both parties that you will remain in the property. Saying you will not be evicted is correct, but obviously not forever. You will be entitled to stay for the duration of this new agreement (which may be your last), unless the owner issues you another 12 months’ notice to vacate upon expiry of your current term.

b. If you decide to move out, the landlord will still be entitled to find another tenant because you leaving will now be your choice, given your landlord is asking if you wish to renew even with an increase in rent which is in line with the Rera rental calculator.

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