Homefront: ‘My employer hasn't paid me for months and will no longer foot my rent’

Ask your landlord for a deferred rent payment to spread out the cost

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - - -  10 April 2017 --- View of Abu Dhabi skyline. Photo taken on Monday, April 10, 2017.   (  DELORES JOHNSON / The National  )  
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Section: AL *** Local Caption ***  DJ-100417-BZ-AD Skyline-001.jpg

I live with my family in Abu Dhabi and have three school-going children. In February, my company reduced my salary from Dh15,000 to Dh5,000 due to the Covid-19 pandemic but promised to continue paying for our housing.

The company has not paid my salary for the months of November, December, January and the first 10 days of February. It has also not paid my end-of-service benefits under the one-year limited contract, cumulatively worth about Dh70,000.

On June 2, the employer paid me Dh10,000 in salary for February and March as per the new contract terms.

My tenancy contract expired on June 6 and my company now tells me that they do not have money to pay for our accommodation.

I do not have money to pay the rent and the landlord is asking me to submit cheques. What should I do? FI, Abu Dhabi

The first thing you should know is that a rental contract automatically renews under the same terms and conditions as before if there is no communication between the parties to the contrary. Your situation is very urgent, so I suggest you contact the landlord as soon as possible to explain your position.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought many hardships and affected millions of people in one way or another. Obviously, a landlord is not running a charity but requesting for more time to pay your rent may help you to arrange required finances. You are not going to ask for a rent waiver, but a deferred payment could be of use to spread out the cost.

If all else fails, you may have to move to cheaper accommodation because nobody will allow you to stay rent-free for an indefinite period
Mario Volpi

Today, landlords are perhaps more lenient than they were a year ago.

I also suggest you speak to your company to sort out a road map as to when you will be paid what you are owed. If your company does not give you a satisfactory answer, you may have to visit the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation to force the employer to pay your dues.

Remember that if all else fails, you may have to move to cheaper accommodation because nobody will allow you to stay rent-free for an indefinite period.

I read a recent Homefront column about sustainable projects to invest in the UAE.

With the move towards sustainability and eco-friendly lifestyles around the world, particularly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, would you recommend buying a property only in a sustainable project in the future?

Would buying a unit in a sustainable project make a difference to a buyer’s profits upon sale, compared with investing in a non-sustainable building? Also, how long will it take before everybody begins to buy eco-friendly properties? DG, Abu Dhabi

Building an eco-friendly tower is expensive for any developer. As with buying organic food in the supermarket, the consumer will have to pay more to do their bit for the environment.

When considering any property purchase, there are other buyer concerns or wishes besides the number of bedrooms or view. An eco-friendly building will attract interest from certain buyers. However, I do not think this is currently a major factor in the capital appreciation of a property that has these attributes.

With reference to how long it will take for consumers to actually seek out apartments or villas within eco-friendly buildings or communities, it will depend on many factors, such as awareness of climate change and cost savings. This shift will probably take as long as car buyers switching from petrol cars to electric vehicles.

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 8th 2021, 5:00 AM