UAE property: ‘Can I notify my landlord of contract non-renewal by phone?’

It is impossible to prove that the tenant informed the landlord if it was only a verbal conversation

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We want to move out of the apartment we have been renting in Abu Dhabi for the past three years.

Our current tenancy contract expires soon. In March, we sent an email to the landlord asking if he could decrease the rent, but we did not receive a reply.

We then informed the landlord’s office over the phone that we do not intend to renew the contract. Someone from the office acknowledged the call and asked us to finish the contract.

On June 13, we visited the landlord’s office to enquire about the process of refunding our security deposit after the contract ends. However, the landlord’s representatives denied receiving a phone call in March and, instead, forced us to renew the contract claiming they had not been notified about non-renewal.

They asked us to read the tenancy contract terms. Upon checking the terms and conditions in the contract, we found that it was written in Arabic, which we cannot understand.

The landlord’s office never bothered explaining the contractual terms to us when we renewed the tenancy three times.

We are willing to forfeit the security deposit, but do not want to renew the contract for another year due to financial difficulties.

Shouldn’t a tenancy contract be in both Arabic and English? Can the landlord force a tenant to renew the contract, even if they do not have money to pay? AB, Abu Dhabi

When signing any contract, it is advisable to read and understand what you’re signing, even if it is in another language.

In the UAE, all real estate rental and sales contracts are written both in Arabic and English, and in most cases the Arabic side prevails.

In terms of your situation, proving you informed the landlord that you were not going to renew is now virtually impossible given that it was a verbal conversation.

It now becomes a “he said, she said” scenario, so it’s better to send a written confirmation that you will not be renewing and at the same time confirm that you would be happy to leave the deposit as part of a financial compensation for the landlord.

If you cannot arrive at an agreement with your landlord, you can file a case at the Abu Dhabi Rental Dispute Centre to sort things out.

I’m currently in the process of renewing my tenancy contract, but the landlord did not give me the sufficient 90 days’ notice to increase the rent.

Last year, I negotiated a 13-month contract for Dh75,000. However, my tenancy contract and Ejari both state different annual rents.

I’m confused as to what tenure/price to renew the new tenancy contract on.

For the new contract, do the terms stay the same as the previous one, for example, 13 months at Dh75,000 or does it now default to a 12-month contract?

For the new cheques and tenancy contract, do I put: 13 months (as before) for Dh75,000, 12 months at an annual amount of Dh69,230 (as per Ejari) or 12 months at Dh75,000 (as per tenancy contract)? JC, Dubai

Technically speaking, and since your landlord did not give you the statutory 90 days' notice to alter the existing contract, it will mean that you are entitled to renew under the same terms and conditions as before.

Therefore, if you had a 13-month contract last time, this renewal should be for the same amount of time and rent.

The rental cheque, therefore, should be for Dh75,000 as before and the dates remain the same just one year on.

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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