UAE property: ‘Do I have to tell my landlord that I want to renew my lease?’

Rental contracts automatically renew under the same terms and conditions if there is no communication between the parties

Any changes to a rent contract have to be communicated in writing, giving at least 90 days’ notice. Photo: Alamy
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My tenancy contract expires on May 14 this year and I wish to renew it.

I understand that a rental contract automatically renews if the tenant does not provide notice to the landlord, according to the Real Estate Regulatory Agency. Therefore, I did not tell my landlord that I wanted to renew the lease 90 days before the contract's expiry.

My landlord has now informed me that he plans to increase the rent. As he did not notify me of a rent increase 90 days before the contract expires, I refused to comply and asked him to renew the contract at the existing rent amount.

However, my landlord claims that, as per the addendum in our tenancy agreement, I’m liable to inform him of my intention to renew the lease 90 days before the contract expires. Is this legal? SS, Dubai

Firstly, you are correct that a rental contract automatically renews under the same terms and conditions if there is no communication between the two parties.

However, you have a specific clause in your agreement that states what you need to do in the event of contract renewal or vacating the unit. This must be adhered to.

But if you want to contest it, you can file a case at the Rent Dispute Settlement Committee (RDSC) and see what the judges decide.

Secondly, any changes to a contract have to be communicated in writing, giving 90 days’ notice. This would include increasing or decreasing the rent and payment terms, such as the number of cheques, but does not, however, apply to non-renewal.

If your landlord has not communicated in writing that he wishes to increase the rent 90 days before contract expiry, this will not be allowed.

To avoid unnecessary expense, time and effort in filing a case with the RDSC , I suggest speaking to your landlord directly to see if you can agree on a common ground.

My tenancy contract will expire in January 2023. The landlord wants to sell the unit.

How do I ensure that the landlord will serve an eviction notice in January 2023, rather than during the term of the contract? ZH, Dubai

As per Law 33 of 2008, if a landlord wants to serve the 12-month eviction notice to sell the property, they should do so upon expiry of the tenancy agreement.

In your case, the notice should be served just before January 2023.

Quote
If a landlord wants to serve the 12-month eviction notice for reason of selling the property, they should do so upon expiry of the tenancy agreement
Mario Volpi, sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers

However, the timing of the 12-month eviction notice has been the subject of debate. Some judges at the RDSC have allowed these notices to be served at any time during the contract.

However, the UAE law is not set on precedent. Judges will rule on future cases based on merit.

I suggest you wait to see what your landlord will do. If they serve the eviction notice before January 2023, organise a meeting with your landlord to explain what the law says and try to steer them towards your view.

If this does not work, you can challenge your landlord’s decision by filing a case at the RDSC. However, some judges have upheld such decisions, so the outcome is uncertain.

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: April 14, 2022, 4:00 AM
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