Homefront: ‘Can my landlord serve a non-renewal notice by email?’

Dubai tenant has been asked to vacate the premises when the contract expires

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I rent an apartment in the Dubai International Financial Centre and it is my first year of tenancy. I recently received an email from my landlord saying that he will not renew the tenancy contract and it will be deemed terminated on the lease expiry date of December 14, 2021. He said he would contact me close to the expiry of the lease to discuss the moving out process.

Can I ignore his email as I believe an official non-renewal notification must be sent in writing through notary public or registered mail? Once I receive the formal non-renewal notice, will that day will be considered the official date of being notified and will my vacating date be 12 months from the date of being served the notice?

Will my new lease have the same terms as my current tenancy contract for the final 12 months of my stay? Do I need to do anything official or simply state this as my legal right?

I am confident that my landlord does not need the apartment for his personal use. He recently listed the unit for sale. Given the recent steep increase in rental prices, I believe my landlord is being opportunistic and asking for a 10 per cent price increase after only 12 months of tenancy. SS, Dubai

With reference to the DIFC specifically, this area has always had its own jurisdiction. However, it mostly follows Dubai laws when it comes to rental issues.

A DIFC landlord can issue a non-renewal notice with three months' notice. As long as this is in writing, there is no need for the landlord to send the notice by notary public or registered mail. Your landlord is in the right to inform you in this way.

What this means is that your tenancy will come to a natural end at the end of your contract agreement.

Now, given what I have said about the DIFC in the most part following Dubai rules, you can test this by filing a case at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee if you do not agree with your landlord and wish to renew your contract.

The judge will then decide if your landlord will have to abide by the 12-month notice rule from Dubai or if you need to leave at the end of your contract date.

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee of success. In this case, you will have to either accept the landlord’s decision or test the system by going to the Real Estate Regulatory Agency.

I live in Abu Dhabi. My landlord sold the apartment to another person. We have been asked to move out by November. What are the penalties for a landlord breaking the lease? KW, Abu Dhabi

When the landlord sells their property to someone else, the terms and conditions of your lease remain the same, irrespective of who the owner is.

The landlord is, however, entitled to request vacant possession after giving two months’ notice before the expiry of the lease.

Depending on when your landlord asked you to vacate, it will determine whether it is legal for him to request vacant possession or not.

When a tenant breaks the contract early, the penalty is usually from one to two months’ rent
Mario Volpi

If the buyer is an investor, the new landlord will presumably be interested in continuing with you as a tenant, subject to terms and conditions. However, if the buyer wishes to use the property, you will most likely have to vacate.

With reference to the landlord breaking the lease early, go through your rental contract and both parties must adhere to what is written in the agreement.

There is no legal amount mentioned in law for penalties when a lease is broken early, other than what is mentioned in your contract.

However, when a tenant breaks the contract early, the penalty is usually from one to two months’ rent. I would suggest that the same formula be used in your case and the landlord should compensate you financially for this.

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: November 04, 2021, 4:00 AM