Homefront: ‘Can my new landlord increase the rent without notice?’

Any changes to a lease contract have to be agreed on and notified in writing, giving the tenant 90 days’ notice

A rental contract will determine whether a tenant is able to end the lease early and if any penalties will apply. Getty Images
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I rent an apartment in Dubai and the tenancy contract expires in September. The ownership of the apartment changed a few weeks ago, well after the 90-day notification deadline had passed.

The new landlord sent me an email a few days ago (55 days before the contract ends) stating that if I wished to continue my tenancy, I would have to pay 12 per cent more in rent. There was no previous communication from the landlord or with any of the parties regarding renewals or an increase in rent.

I have pushed back, saying the 90-day notification deadline had passed and therefore I am not agreeing to a rental increase. I was wondering if the 90-day stipulation still applies if ownership of the apartment has changed during the last quarter of a tenancy contract?

My contract also states: “If the property is sold during the term of the contract and the new landlord does not agree with the continuation of the tenancy, then the landlord has the right to ask the tenant to vacate the premises, provided a three-month notice is given, with the landlord committing to give two months' free rent during the notice period.”

I would appreciate your feedback. YS, Dubai

The first thing to know is that even if a rental property is sold, your new landlord has to abide by the existing terms and conditions of your contract.

Any changes to a rental lease, such as rent increases or decreases, the number of cheques or any other material changes to a contract, have to be agreed upon and notified in writing (email is OK), with 90 days’ notice given before the contract expires.

If the landlord has not notified you of any changes to the contract within the 90-day window, the contract has to remain as is for the next renewal
Mario Volpi

If the landlord has not notified you of any changes to the contract within this 90-day window, the contract has to remain as is for the next renewal. Therefore, no rent increase is allowed, even if the landlord is new.

The other point to know is that any increase in rent has to be in agreement with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority rental calculator.

However, contracts always have a caveat that states “unless otherwise agreed”. This means that despite what the law may state to be true, if two parties agree otherwise, then their agreement takes precedent.

In your case, you either agree or do not. In the latter instance, you can open a case by filing a complaint at the Rental Dispute Settlement Centre in Dubai. This will cost you 3.5 per cent of the rental amount.

Lastly, as you have a three-month notice plus two months’ rent free clause in your agreement, this will be triggered given the disagreement between the parties.

My landlord is no longer responding or communicating with me regarding my lease renewal, which is due this month. I am travelling overseas soon.

How can I register an Ejari contract without the landlord’s signature? I also want to make sure that Dewa and Empower services remain connected when I am outside the UAE for five weeks. What can I do? TM, Dubai

You do not need to worry. A contract is automatically renewed under the same terms and conditions as before, unless otherwise agreed. So, even if your landlord is not responding, as per the law, you have a valid contract.

You can renew your Ejari contract by visiting one of the approved typing centres in Dubai. Produce your documents and pay the fee.

Dewa and Empower services will also remain connected in your unit.

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: August 05, 2021, 4:00 AM