Homefront: 'I didn't want to renew my lease but my request was ignored'

Property agency rejected tenant’s non-renewal request and is now demanding a two-month rent penalty to resolve the issue

Close-up of woman holding house key in new home. Getty Images

My rental contract expired on December 31 and it stated that I had to serve 60 days’ notice if I did not want to renew the lease.

On September 26, I contacted the real estate agency that manages the property and requested a rent reduction. However, the agency asked me to ignore the requirement to serve a non-renewal notice because it would not be handling the property any more.

On November 11, a different real estate company sent me an email stating that it would be managing the property going forward. I replied asking for a rent reduction upon renewal of the contract.

On November 15, the company replied to my request with the new rent, which was unviable for me. I replied stating that I would not be renewing the lease. However, they said this was not possible because I had not served the 60 days’ notice.

When I went to hand over the keys on December 30, the property management company refused to accept it and said my lease had been automatically renewed. The agent didn’t accept my notice because it was served less than 60 days before contract renewal.

The company also asked me to pay two months’ rent as a penalty to resolve the issue.

I went back to the agency on January 3 but the agents refused to accept the house key and are now threatening to sue me unless I pay the penalty. What can I do? EC, Dubai

If your current rental contract states that 60 days’ notice has to be given for both renewal and non-renewal, this clause has to be adhered to.

However, if the landlord wants more rent than you can afford during renewal, you are entitled to vacate the property.

Quote
Technically a tenant doesn’t have to serve any notice for non-renewal because a rental contract has a start and end date
Mario Volpi, sales and leasing manager, Engel & Volkers

Technically, a tenant doesn’t have to serve any notice for non-renewal because a rental contract has a start and end date.

While the new company correctly stated that the contract automatically renews, this only happens when there is no communication between the parties, which is not the situation in your case.

I suggest you file a case immediately with the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee, which will advise you accordingly.

I served an eviction notice to my villa tenant in Dubai in May this year. He was asked to vacate my villa by April 30, 2022, because I plan to sell the property. Although it is still listed, I have not found a buyer yet.

The tenant’s contract ended on October 31 last year and we agreed to sign a six-month contract to let him stay until the notice period ends.

The contract was drawn up for signing. However, on September 30, he wanted to vacate the villa and imposed a condition that he would vacate only if we waive all possible penalties against him.

We agreed to this and it was mutually agreed that he would hand over the villa on October 31. But he vacated only on November 7 and left the villa uncleaned. He moved into a villa in the same complex.

We found another tenant because we cannot afford to keep the villa vacant until it is sold. We have an agreement that the current tenant would not have any objection to the sale.

Can the previous tenant take legal action against us for renting our villa to a third party before the sale? All communication with him was via email.

He is now threatening us that we cannot deduct any money from his security deposit for the extra six days of his stay and cleaning charges. Please advise. RD, Dubai

It was your previous tenant’s decision to move out, not yours, and you were, in fact, organising an extension to the expiring tenancy. He cannot, therefore, exercise his right to compensation now that you have re-let the property.

With reference to the deposit, a landlord can rightfully deduct money from it if the outgoing tenant does not return the property in the same condition it was when he moved in. You have every right to deduct whatever you need to bring the property back to the same condition.

Also, the rent needs to be paid up to when the tenant vacates. This needs to be calculated and deducted from the deposit as well.

The tenant has two choices: either you deduct the necessary monies to pay for the extra six days and the amount needed to clean the property or he pays you this amount first so that you can repay the deposit in full.

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: January 27, 2022, 4:00 AM