Mario Volpi: Dubai tenant finds new villa unlivable and wants landlord to change contract

The tenant of a new Dubai villa with 'snagging issues' that could affect her daughter's health, can ask the landlord to delay the contract's start date until the property is livable.

Pawan Singh / The National
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I rented a new villa last month shortly after I went to view the property and liked it. I handed over the deposit cheque and the signed contract a week later and then the tenancy commenced. We wrote three cheques of Dh100,000 each and the owner encashed the first cheque by February 10 and handed the keys over. I then visited the property the day after the tenancy started and found it in an utterly horrible state. It was full of sand that had come under the doors – of which there are five in total. I have since come to know that the property – which is brand new – has major contracting issues with the doors. My daughter has asthma and because so much sand is coming in via all of the villa's doorways, I cannot move in. The contractor says it will take a week to 10 days to fix the problem. The owner is not bothered to take our call and does not want to communicate at all. My rent has started and yet the villa needs another 10 days for things to be fixed. Can I demand the owner changes the contract date so that it starts when the villa is in a liveable condition? I want to complain. Where can I go? SM, Dubai

It appears that the villa is still undergoing either snagging or handover procedures, therefore is not actually ready for occupation. That said, it is the responsibility of the landlord to hand over a suitable property fit for purpose and clearly it is not. For these reasons, it is not unreasonable to request the contract starts when the repairs are concluded – ie, in 10 days time. Not all landlords are like this, but many believe that they do not have any more responsibility once their property is let. Quite the contrary, this is when their responsibility actually begins. I suggest you hold a face-to-face meeting with the landlord to explain your situation, especially the health of your daughter, to find a compromise. Failing this, I suggest you file a complaint at the Land Department rental dispute committee.

My present tenancy contract expires on May 31. This year the landlord gave me the proper 90 days' notice for eviction through email last month. And through public notary, he had sent an eviction notice last October. He is looking for my response 90 days before the expiry of the lease. When do I have to give him a decision? I would like to stay in the same flat. What do I need to do? PB, Dubai

Allow me to clarify some points. You mention that your landlord gave you an eviction notice in October 2016 sent via public notary, which is the correct method for communicating eviction notices. I also presume that the reason for the eviction was stated. The four main reasons for the eviction of tenants allowed by law are:


For self-use or use by next of kin of first degree

For reason of extensive modernisation that would prevent the tenant from living in the property while the work was carried out

For reason of demolition

For these two last points, the landlord would also have to give evidence of the reason by showing a technical report from the concerned authority.

If the eviction notice sent in October did in fact follow one of the above reasons, there is little you can do about staying beyond October 2017. You will unfortunately have to vacate at this date. For now, I would inform your landlord that you wish to renew the contract, therefore you ought to be able to sign a new agreement until at least October 2017.

Just to add some confusion to this, Law 33 of 2008 states that a 12-month eviction not­ice should be served to the tenant upon expiry of the tenancy agreement. Your landlord did not do this then, he served the eviction notice a full seven months before the expiry of your agreement. If you were to question this by filing a complaint at the rental dispute committee, it is possible that a judge will uphold this or the judge could also easily agree that the 12-month notice served is sufficient irrespective of when it is served.

I stress that the interpretation of the law is determined only by the judge at the rent committee, therefore I cannot give you a definitive answer on how it will go one way or the other should you decide to complain to stay longer.

Mario Volpi is the chief sales officer for Kensington Exclusive Properties and has worked in the property industry for over 30 years in London and Dubai. The opinions expressed do not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Please send any questions to

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