Homefront: ‘Can I be served with an eviction notice midway through my Dubai lease?’

The landlord sent the tenant a notice to vacate one month after the lease was renewed

When a landlord serves a tenant a 12-month notice to vacate for reason of own use or for use of first-degree next of kin, he has to prove that he does not own another suitable property he could use instead. Alamy
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I received a 12-month eviction notice from my landlord one month after renewing my second rental contract with him. He wants to sell the property.

I own an apartment, which I bought in February 2021, and the existing tenant renewed his lease in May 2021. This is his second year in the apartment after renting the unit from the previous owner.

When I received the eviction notice from my landlord, I served a similar notice to my tenant through notary public and said I wanted to use the apartment.

However, my tenant, who is a lawyer, claims that an eviction notice can be served only at the time of lease renewal and not in between a tenancy contract.

Is this correct? Can I also challenge my landlord on the timing of his eviction notice? Or does the rule apply only for the first year of a rental contract? AR, Sharjah

Law 33 of 2008 amended some clauses of Law 26 of 2007, which governs the relationship between landlords and tenants.

The former law stated that an eviction notice is served upon expiry of the tenancy agreement. Therefore, in your case, what your tenant says is correct.

However, some judges at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee (RDSC) are allowing landlords to serve the 12-month eviction notice at any time during the contract.

The important point to note is that in the UAE, law is not set on precedent. So, it is up to the judges’ interpretation of the law.

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Some judges at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee are allowing landlords to serve the 12-month eviction notice at any time during the contract
Mario Volpi, sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers

The only way to find out is to file a case with the committee to contest the timing of the eviction notice. The same law will also apply to your landlord.

I rented out my two-bedroom apartment in Dubai. Ninety days before the contract expired, I checked Dubai’s Rental Index Calculator and found out that the rent for a two-bedroom apartment in my community is between Dh64,000 and Dh78,000 a year.

I rented out my apartment for Dh66,000 and felt it was less than the market value, so sent my tenant a notice that I would be increasing the rent to Dh80,000. The tenant replied within the 90-day window, saying they did not want to renew the contract without citing a reason or counter offer.

With 30 days to go before contract expiry, I reached out to leasing agents to rent out my unit. When agents contacted my tenant to arrange viewings, he refused to give them access and cited excuses. The tenant told me that they were considering renewing the lease. Can a tenant change their mind after serving notice to not renew the contract?

They also demanded that the contract be renewed at the old rent of Dh66,000. I decided to apply for a valuation certificate, which calculated the rent at Dh75,000. However, the tenant insists they can only pay about Dh3,000 to Dh4,000 more than the current rent. I rejected their offer.

With less than a month for contract renewal, what are my options? TS, Dubai

When you have an existing tenant in situ, the only way to proceed with a rental increase is via the Rental Calculator. By your own admission, it states that the rent for a two-bedroom unit in this location is in the range of Dh64,000 to Dh78,000. Given your rent of Dh66,000 falls within this band, technically you cannot raise rent at this renewal.

When you market your property via real estate brokers to find another tenant, they will quote the current market rent, which is higher than what your tenant pays.

The rental valuation only takes into consideration a vacant possession rate, which is the current market rate. This is not valid for an existing tenant.

If your tenant has offered to pay an additional Dh3,000 to Dh4,000 above the current rent, I suggest you accept it because you are not legally entitled to a rent increase at all.

Unless it is specifically written in the tenancy contract, your tenant does not have to allow viewings since they are entitled to “quiet enjoyment” of the property in exchange for paying the rent.

Your tenant has a contract until the end date and as per Law 33 of 2008, they do not need to offer you a non-renewal notice. They are entitled to change their mind and stay as long as the contract is valid.

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

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Updated: March 21, 2022, 4:23 AM
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