Homefront: ‘Can my landlord randomly ask me to vacate the villa I rent?’

The Dubai tenant was served a 12-month notice to vacate the property after living there for five months

I rented a villa in Dubai about five months ago. My landlord also owns other villas in the same area.

I was in the process of buying customised furniture and had finished landscaping the garden when my landlord sent an email asking me to vacate the property by October 2022. He served me a 12-month notice to vacate.

I signed the villa lease in May this year, so my next rent contract starting in May 2022 will only be valid for five months.

In his email, my landlord said he wanted to upgrade the villa to sell it. However, the villa was built recently.

I called the landlord’s office to complain that the eviction notice had not been officially served. A week later, I received a notary public paper to move out, stating that I had been served 12 months’ notice from the date of receiving the document.

I believe my landlord does not intend to sell the villa and only wants to evict me to get a new tenant at a higher rent, beyond what’s mentioned on the Real Estate Regulatory Agency calculator. He has also served similar eviction notices to his other tenants in the area.

I spent a lot of money on painting, decor and landscaping the villa. What are the tenant’s rights in this situation? BR, Dubai

The main thing to remember is that despite what may appear to be aggressive action on the landlord’s behalf, he is within his right to inform you that he wishes to sell the property and he served a 12-month notice.

But even if he sells the villa, your current rental contract remains in play, at least for the duration of the present agreement.

If the buyer is an investor, your rental agreement has to be renewed. However, as long as the landlord serves a 90-day notice, changes can be made to the contract, including the rent, number of cheques or any other clauses.

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As long as the landlord serves a 90-day notice, changes can be made to the contract, including the rent, number of cheques or any other clauses
Mario Volpi, Engel & Volkers

However, any rent increase has to be in line with the Rera rental calculator and you, as the tenant, need to agree to such changes.

If you vacate the villa and subsequently find out that the landlord has re-let it to someone else, you will be entitled to compensation. The owner must give you, the current tenant, the first choice to re-let the property after the refurbishing.

If this happens and you wish to apply for compensation, you will have to file a case at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee.

I have been renting an apartment in Dubai since January 21 this year. I like the property and was hoping to renew the lease for an additional year.

However, 90 days before expiry of the current lease, I received an email from a real estate agency that the rent would go up by 15 per cent. If I did not respond to the email, the agency said it would consider it as my approval for the rent hike.

The agency did not address the email to me. There was also no mention of the apartment number, building or street in the email. It did not come from the landlord but from an agency instead.

Is this email valid? BD, Dubai

Any changes to a rental contract are allowed as long as the information is communicated in writing (email is fine), giving at least 90 days’ notice.

However, any increase in rent has to be in line with the Rera rent calculator. A landlord is only allowed to increase the rent by up to a maximum of 20 per cent in a year. As the tenant, you have to agree to the increase. If you do not agree, your only alternative is to vacate the premises.

I agree that the email sent to you was not framed well (not addressed to you and lack of proper information). However, it was sent to inform you of the landlord’s intention.

You mentioned an agency sent the email. I presume it is the real estate agency that manages your landlord’s property.

The agency is only trying to get a prompt response from you by saying that no communication deems the content of their email is accepted. Presumably, you will write back requesting for more information.

If the Rera calculator states that a 15 per cent rent increase is allowed and the agency has notified you in writing 90 days before contract expiry, you have three choices. Either accept the new terms and renew the lease for one more year, try to negotiate the increase down to better terms or vacate the property if you don’t agree.

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 18th 2021, 4:30 AM
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