UAE property: ‘Can my agent increase the rent without 90 days' notice?’

The Dubai tenant wants to know if the contract will automatically renew under the same conditions if she does not agree to rent hike

To make any changes to an existing rental contract, 90 days’ notice prior to the expiration has to be offered to either party and an agreement must be in place. Photo: Alamy
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My real estate broker notified me of a rent increase only 55 days before the contract expired. Instead, I had notified them of my decision to renew the lease 90 days before it expired.

However, I did not agree to the proposed rent increase. Instead, I suggested to pay a slightly higher rent than the current amount. However, the broker is refusing to issue a new tenancy contract unless I agree to their proposed rent increase.

If I do nothing between now and the end of my tenancy, will the contract automatically renew with the same conditions as before? Also, if the broker doesn’t issue me a new tenancy contract, can I register the lease with Ejari?

I have already sent the agency the first of my four rental cheques. Do I send them the remaining cheques, ignoring their demands to increase the rent?

I also wondered whether I should contact the landlord directly. However, I am not sure what the broker has told the property owner because it is the former who failed to provide me due notice. DP, Dubai

You are correct that in order to affect any changes to an existing rental contract, 90 days’ notice prior to the expiration has to be offered to either party and an agreement must be in place.

A contract can automatically renew under the same terms and conditions, but only if there is no communication between the parties.

The landlord cannot refuse to issue a new contract just because he wants more rent than what is permissible by the Real Estate Regulatory Agency’s (Rera) rent calculator.

It would appear that you have done all you can to maintain a cordial relationship. However, to break the deadlock, you can request your first cheque back from the broker and then proceed to send all four cheques to Rera, which will write to the landlord to inform them that they have to pick them up from the agency.

Your other option would be to file a case at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee (RDSC) to force your landlord to accept what is correct and renew either at the amount you have stated already or whatever the calculator has confirmed is the right rent.

Regarding Ejari registration, I suggest you visit a government Happiness Centre, such as the one in Al Manara on Sheikh Zayed Road, to explain your position face to face.

Remember to take along your existing tenancy agreement, copies of cheques and all documents used earlier when registering the Ejari. The officials should be able to advise about the Ejari situation with more clarity.

I began renting an apartment in Dubai in March 2021 and renewed the lease this year until March 2023.

At the end of May this year, a 12-month notarised eviction notice in Arabic was pinned on my door and the real estate agency informed me that my landlord intends to sell the property. However, I suspect that this is a ploy to re-let the property at a higher rent.

What I understand is that if a landlord evicts a tenant from their property for the purpose of self-use, sale or demolishing, then he/she is not allowed to rent out the property for two years and if they lease it for a higher rent, the tenant may be entitled for a compensation worth one year’s rent.

I have neither been offered the right of first refusal nor received any other communication, except from the agency calling to notify me about the eviction notice.

After I move out in March 2023, if I find out that the same landlord is trying to rent the apartment for a higher price, can I file a complaint with the RDSC?

Also, is the 12 months’ eviction notice I received in May legally acceptable since it is 10 months away from my contract expiry date? EE, Dubai

If you end up moving out of the property and subsequently find out that the landlord has re-let the property, you are entitled to compensation but you would have to file a case at the RDSC, armed with evidence of the same and explaining how you were not offered the right of refusal.

The cost of filing the case is 3.5 per cent of the rental amount. If you win the case, you are often granted costs in addition to the compensation you stated.

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A 12-month notice to vacate is supposed to be sent upon expiry of the tenancy agreement. However, some judges at the RDSC allow this notice to be served at any time. So generally speaking, your landlord’s notice would appear to be legal.

All you can do now is play the waiting game until March next year and then decide what to do going forward.

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: July 21, 2022, 4:00 AM
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