Ex-husband rents out jointly-owned Dubai villa without permission

Villa owner comes to blows with her ex-husband over rental of their jointly owned property. Mario Volpi advises.
A Dubai villa owner is concerned about the actions of her ex husband. Pawan Singh / The National
A Dubai villa owner is concerned about the actions of her ex husband. Pawan Singh / The National

I am the joint title holder of a villa in Dubai. The property is held jointly by myself and my ex-husband. The fact that the property was jointly held by us was not revealed to me until lately when my ex started forcing me to give a Power Of Attorney (POA) for the property. I then came to know that he has rented the property, but of course without my permission. I am presently living in India and I have a court order for him to sell the property and disclose accounts related to the property. My ex says that he has rented the property until 2017 and that it cannot be sold. I highly doubt that since he has not disclosed any documents and he is evading court. RF, Dubai

It is possible for your husband to have let your property on a long-term basis but the norm is for one-year rental at a time, which will be renewable. Irrespective of whether a property is leased, it can still be marketed for sale. It is true that having a tenant in situ does limit its saleability but it does not prevent it from being sold.

If a property is jointly owned then all parties on the title deed have to sign the tenancy agreement. If you have now given your husband a POA to sign on your behalf then the rental is legal.

However, if he has signed on your behalf without your permission you can challenge the rental. The one thing to also consider is the innocent tenant who has done nothing wrong so his situation must also be taken into consideration.

I renewed my apartment lease on January 1J 2014 and it is valid until December 31. Then in February, I received a 12-month notary attested Arabic eviction notice from my landlord to vacate the apartment. The notice says that landlord wants to sell the property that’s why he wants me to vacate the apartment. But I have a couple of questions:

1. I have not had a single buyer visit my apartment to view the property. I am 100 per cent sure my landlord just wants to relet the property on a higher rent because my rent is quite low in comparison to the market rate. I do not want to vacate as it will be really painful especially with the family and school going kids, so how can I challenge this eviction notice?

2. If I do have to vacate, when do I actually need to move out as my lease expires on December 31 and on January 1 it should automatically be renewed for next one-year, however, my notice period will expire in February 2015? IH, Dubai

You have every right to see a sales contract to prove that the property has been sold. The fact no one has come to view the property for 11 months does seem a bit suspicious but properties can be sold to buyers unseen. It is rare but not impossible.

However there are issues to play here. As you were given the 12-month notification to vacate for reason of selling, the law is actually silent on the fact of do you actually have to vacate if the property remains unsold after this period expires. The only real way would be to test the legal system, as there does not appear to be a precedent on this, either party would have to open a case at the rental committee and let a judge decide.

I have checked with several lawyers on this point and pretty much all of them feel that the spirit of the law would be broken if you were made to vacate and the property remained unsold. I reiterate that you would have to make your claim against moving and all the hassles and costs involved to the presiding judge, in the hope the judge looks favourably on you and your family. However, as soon as a buyer is found, then you would then definitely have to vacate.

Mario Volpi is the managing director of Ocean View real easte and has worked in the industry in the emirate 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 17, 2014 04:00 AM


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