Dubai tenants face rent committee decisions as landlords ignore law

Our property columnist Mario Volpi helps two tenants who may have to face their landlords at Dubai's Rent Committee to ensure their legal rights are upheld.

After four years in my apartment, I now find myself in a situation where my landlord is trying to evict me when the existing contract expires. No eviction notice has been issued up until now, but they are refusing to renew the existing contract saying that the contract states it is “non-renewable” and they would now like to sell the property. I have informed them of the law regarding eviction, that they must formally give 12 months’ notice, but even in light of this they have said they will not renew the contract. Can you direct me to a suitable lawyer who can advise me on how to proceed if we reach an unfortunate stage where the case goes to court? I really hope this will not be necessary as I am following the law, but I feel I should be prepared. NS, Dubai

Your landlord cannot go against the law. You are obviously aware of your rights and if the landlord wants to sell the property, he has to give you either a notarised 12 months’ notice or a registered mail 12 months’ notice. The law is on your side, if he fails to renew your contract and you obviously wish to extend the contract, the law states that the contract automatically renews anyway at the original terms and conditions.

My advice would be for you to explain this again to the landlord and if he does not play ball, I would urge you to file a case at the rent committee. The cost of doing so is 3.5 per cent of the annual rental amount but you will get this back when you win. The law is clear and on your side, you must be given proper notice to vacate and it would appear this has not been the case for you, irrespective of how long you have been in residence.

I signed my tenancy contract on July 14 last year with a real estate agency. I cannot find anything in the contract that says the tenant will have to know 90 days in advance if their rent will bump up or not. But I understand the agents need to tell me 90 days in advance, which is due tomorrow. So what happens if nothing is written in the contract? Are they still obliged by UAE law to tell me 90 days in advance? And what if they don’t tell me anything? The reason I’m asking is because I signed the contract thinking that the owner could not increase the rent by more than 5 per cent during the first two years and my friends says the law has changed and they can now increase rent by up to 20 per cent. So can they increase my rent with less than 90 days’ notice (even though it’s not written in my contract)? AER, Dubai

The 90-day notice (prior to the expiration of the tenancy agreement) is mandatory between both parties and is in place now by law to give notice to each party of any changes to the existing contract. This would obviously also mean the rent either going up or down. Law 26 of 2007 has been amended by law 33 of 2008 and landlords can now increase the rent as per the decree 43 of 2013 issued last year. The level of increase in rent is determinable by the Rera rent calculator and the increase ranges from 5 per cent up to a maximum of 20 per cent in one calendar year, provided the rent calculator says so. This information can be found on the dubailand.gov.ae website. To confirm your last question, the landlord has to give you 90 days’ notice before the end of your tenancy agreement to raise the rent. If they do not give you this notice, then in theory no rent increase should be allowed but if your landlord insists on an increase you will have to open a case at the rent committee which will cost 3.5 per cent of the annual rent. If you win, this cost will be paid by the landlord.

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 7, 2014 04:00 AM

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