Homefront: ‘Can I repaint or make alterations to a rented property?’

The landlord must give their permission in writing to the tenant before they can make any changes to the unit

The rental property has to be given back at the end of the contract in the same condition as it was originally. It is, therefore, advisable to clean and repaint the property in the same colour as before. Photo: Getty Images
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I signed a new rental agreement with a property management company. I am keen to repaint the property before I move in. Am I allowed to do this or should I obtain permission in writing from the landlord or the property management company?

If I am allowed to repaint the property, does this mean that I have return it to its original colour at the end of my tenancy contract? I would also like to make a few alterations to the property. Is this also allowed? MM, Dubai

Any alterations to a rented property must first be agreed upon by the landlord. An email from the owner is sufficient to confirm this.

The rental property has to be given back at the end of the contract in the same condition as it was originally. It is, therefore, advisable to clean and repaint the property in the same colour as before.

With reference to alterations, again any of these need written permission from the landlord.

It is advisable to also consult with the owner on whether the property can be given back with these alterations still in place or if it needs to be returned in its original state.

As long as the landlord is aware and agrees, most things are permissible.

I purchased a villa from a developer in the UAE. However, construction was delayed by a few years and the property was recently handed over.

After moving in, I found several defects such as leaks, damp ceilings and cracks in the walls, to name a few. Who is responsible for fixing these defects?

Is it the developer or the contractor? Will they foot the bills to fix these defects? What is the typical warranty period for newly built properties in the UAE?

A new building comes with a 10-year warranty against repair to structural defects
Mario Volpi

I may also have to move out of the property while these defects are being fixed. Will the developer or contractor meet my housing expenses in the interim? KV, Abu Dhabi

When taking possession of any new property from a developer, there is a process called snagging that needs to be done before moving in. This is when you are invited to go and view the property and note down all that still requires to be done in order for the property to be finished.

The developer will then liaise with the contractor to address the reported defects or changes. Presumably, this was done in your case, so I can only assume that the issues you mention happened during the period after snagging but before handover.

If this is the case, you need to file a report with the developer before any discussion arises that you may have caused these defects after you moved in.

The developer will liaise with the contractor. Be aware that you might have a bit of a fight on your hands to prove liability on the developer’s part.

That said, a new building comes with a 10-year warranty for the repair of structural defects. The law also provides that a developer is liable to repair or replace such items as mechanical and electrical work, sanitary and plumbing installations for a period of one year from the date the completion certificate was issued.

With reference to your out-of-pocket expenses while the works are carried out, I do not believe you will be successful in claiming these due to the snagging process that you presumably attended in the first place. However, there is no harm in trying.

Mario Volpi is the sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers. He has worked in the property sector for more than 35 years in London and Dubai. The opinions expressed do not constitute legal advice and are provided for information only. Please send any questions to mario.volpi@engelvoelkers.com

Updated: July 01, 2021, 4:00 AM