UAE property: ‘Can I demand a rent reduction for lack of building facilities?'

The tenant's contract lists a gym in the building but the facility is not operational

If a tenant is not able to avail of building amenities such as a gym, they should be able to request some sort of compensation in the form of a rebate. AFP
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I rent an apartment in a new building, which is owned by a bank.

My rent contract states that the building will have a gym. However, it has been more than six months since I moved in and the gym has yet to be operational. It does not look like the management plans to operate a gym at all.

Do I have any legal recourse in terms of building amenities that were promised, but not delivered? RH, Abu Dhabi

In any rental agreement, the rent amount is a reflection of the property, the view and the amenities offered.

If you are not able to avail of these amenities, you should be able to request some sort of compensation in the form of a rebate.

This sounds OK in theory but in practice, especially as your landlord is a bank, it may prove to be difficult to carry through. However, you should definitely try to negotiate.

I purchased a property from a developer and it has started handing over units after a delay in completion. I have been asked to sign the property handover contract.

Should I submit a formal complaint to authorities for delayed handover before I sign the form? Or can I sign the handover form, receive the finished property and then submit a complaint? AL, Dubai

If you have an issue with your property handover, my advice would be to finish the handover first and then address your concerns directly with the developer.

If you delay taking the handover, you could be liable for any late handover penalties that may be issued.

Another point to consider is that the developer will not be affected by you not taking handover. Instead, this action will affect you on a much larger scale.

My family and I rented an apartment in December 2021 for Dh85,000 a year. However, from March 2022, the landlord asked us to accommodate viewings because he wants to sell the apartment. He has yet to serve us with a formal written eviction notice.

We moved into this unit at a significant cost and were candid about hoping to stay here for many years.

If the landlord cannot sell the apartment, can he ask us to vacate at the end of the current lease? Is he not bound to serve us with a formal 12-month notice before evicting us?

Can he refuse to sign a renewal lease? Or is he legally obliged to agree to a new lease and then ask us to leave after 12 months? We understand that a 12-month eviction notice can only be served upon the expiry of our lease in December 2022.

If the landlord sells the unit and the new owner is an investor, can he ask us to vacate to try to increase the rent? The Real Estate Regulatory Agency's calculator says the property’s rent cannot be increased now.

Will the new landlord extend the current lease and then serve us with a 12-month notice to vacate? What if our current landlord sells and the new owner wishes to move into the property himself? MR, Dubai

If the landlord wants to sell the property, he must not only inform you verbally so that you co-operate with viewings, but he must also serve you with a 12-month notice to vacate, which is sent via notary public or registered mail, explaining the reason for the eviction.

Your tenancy contract automatically renews under the same terms and conditions as before, unless otherwise agreed, so he cannot simply refuse to renew the contract.

With reference to when the 12-month notice should be served, there are two points to consider. Firstly, as per law 33 of 2008, the 12-month eviction notice should be served upon expiry of the rental agreement. This means the landlord will renew for one more 12-month period, after which he will expect you to vacate.

Secondly, some landlords do not wait for the end of a rental contract to serve the 12-month eviction notice. They serve it at any time during the rental term. Although this appears to go against the law, some judges at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee (RDSC) have allowed this.

If the landlord sells to a buyer who is an investor, your contract automatically remains the same for the duration of your current agreement. If the new owner wishes to change the contract during renewal, he must give you 90 days’ notice. If you agree to the changes, he can proceed and make alterations to the contract.

The new owner cannot ask you to leave unless he wants vacant possession, for which he has to give you 12 months' notice.

If you agree to move out at the end of the first 12-month notice, then that is the end of it. However, if you do not agree and file a case, the judge may rule in favour of the landlord and you will have to move out at the end of the notice period or he may ask the new landlord to serve their own 12-month notice to vacate.

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: June 16, 2022, 4:00 AM
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