Homefront: 'Our landlord accused us of not paying the rent to evict us'

The law is clear about how to evict a tenant and any disagreements are heard by the Rental Dispute Settlement Centre

A landlord is accusing a tenant of not paying their rent for a property in Dubai. Stephen Lock / The National

Our landlord wanted to increase our rent because she is facing financial difficulties. However, we told her that she couldn't do this as it was less than the required 90 days' notice.

This must have upset our landlord, as she ignored us when we requested her to send the new lease contract to renew our Ejari. She finally sent the renewal contract one day before its expiry, but the very next morning sent a legal notice accusing us of late payment.

I was changing jobs at the time but told her we could transfer the first payment directly to her account and then give her the second and third cheques. She did not reply.

We followed up with another email and SMS text saying that all three cheques were available for her to collect. But again, she did not respond. She has now raised a case with the Rental Dispute Settlement Centre in Dubai claiming no payment. This is despite us having a copy of all of our communication with her to prove that we told her the cheques were ready to collect.

In May, she sent us a 12-month legal notice to vacate the property because she planned to sell it. This is fine, but it seems she is trying to get us out early.

Could you please advise if we have done anything wrong? It seems strange that she raised a case against us even though we told her the cheques were ready to collect. JB, Dubai

It is clear that your landlord wants you to vacate the property, but the law has processes in place for this and unfortunately for her, your eventual eviction will not necessarily happen as quickly as she perhaps needs.

In answer to your question, no, you have not done anything wrong. The law is clear about how to evict a tenant and any disagreements are heard by the Rental Dispute Settlement Centre.

If you have clear evidence of communications between you and your landlord about your rental payments, there is nothing to worry about.

More than 60 days ago, my tenant agreed by email to renew the lease of the apartment they were renting from me. However, just nine days before the contract renewal date they informed me that they want to cancel the tenancy.

The contract states that a two-month penalty has to be paid for early termination, but the tenant is refusing to pay it.

Do I still have to give him a no-objection certificate to vacate the premises or can I refuse? Obviously, I will not be able to rent the apartment any time soon because he didn’t give me any notice. How can I get the tenant to pay the penalty? LG, Dubai

The first thing to consider is your actual contract. You say that a two-month penalty is mentioned for early termination, but your tenant is not terminating early, he’s just not renewing.

I understand that the tenant had previously confirmed that he wanted to renew, however, he has now changed his mind. This is where things can go one way or another.

I can confirm that as per the law, a tenant does not have to give notice for non-renewal of a lease
Mario Volpi

If you insist on pressing the penalty clause, the chances are that the tenant may not agree and file a case at the Rental Dispute Settlement Centre and a judge will decide on the eventual outcome.

However, I can confirm that as per the law, a tenant does not have to give notice for non-renewal of a lease.

On the face of it, it seems odd as it leaves a landlord a very short period of time to find another tenant before the existing contract expires. But as per law 33 of 2008, a tenant or landlord has to give 90 days' notice in writing to alter a contract, not to renew it. Renewing a contract is not an alteration as it has a start and end date.

My advice, therefore, would be not to fight this case but to continue with the vacating process by giving the tenant the NOC and concentrate your efforts on finding another tenant to rent your property.

The market is very good at present, so I’m sure that your property will be rented out in a short period of time.

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: September 09, 2021, 4:00 AM