UAE property: 'My tenant is behind in rent and won't renew the lease'

The renter has been ignoring the landlord’s requests to renew the contract and has also fallen behind on payments

A 30-day notarised notification to pay overdue rent is required before a landlord can act against a tenant. Antonie Robertson / The National
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My tenant has overstayed in my apartment for more than a month.

I informed him about an increase in rent 90 days before the end of the contract. A month before contract expiry, I requested that he renew the tenancy agreement.

However, despite many reminders, he kept putting off signing the contract, saying he was busy. When the current contract ended, I emailed him regularly reminding him to renew the lease, but he claimed to be overseas on a business trip and promised to sign the renewal lease on his return.

When he returned and continued to stay in my apartment two weeks after the contract ended, I contacted him.

He promised to renew the contract as soon as he received a new chequebook. However, it’s been more than a month and he continues to claim he hasn’t received the chequebook yet.

He has also not registered the chiller account in his name and the company keeps billing me. Although he eventually clears the AC bill, he is always late in making the payment. What can I do? AP, Dubai

Despite the fact that your tenant is already one month in arrears, you should immediately send him a 30-day notarised notification to pay his due rent and conclude the rental renewal contract or vacate.

You could go ahead and file a case at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee (RDSC), but my understanding is that they will ask you to send this 30-day notice anyway.

Therefore, use this period to also make inquiries at the RDSC in case he fails to meet this 30-day deadline.

This way, as soon as the 30 days are up, you can immediately file a case and ultimately get him evicted.

I own a property in Dubai, which is currently rented out. I am based overseas.

I am seeking advice on a rental increase, which is consistent with levels prescribed by the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera), and using registered email to notify about the increase 90 days before contract expiry.

Although the tenant replied in the affirmative, he said he agrees with the rent increase as long as it complies with the government rules and regulations.

I am inclined to take that comment as lacking good faith.

What is the precedent of the RDSC awarding judgments on email? I am getting mixed views on the legal enforceability of emails and RDC ruling system that prefers notary and registered notices. FA

Any alteration to an existing rental contract at renewal, which includes increases or decreases in the rental amount, should fulfil certain criteria in order to be valid.

First, the changes have to be communicated to the parties (in writing) — in this case email is fine.

Second, in case of rental increases, the Rera rent calculator must state the permissible increase for the renewal. If it doesn’t, then no increase is allowed, even if you want a higher rent at renewal.

Finally, there has to be an agreement between the parties for these changes.

If you have communicated your wish to increase the rent in writing to the tenant 90 days prior to the renewal date and the Rera rent calculator confirms whatever percentage increase is allowed, this is what the new rent should be at renewal.

If the tenant doesn’t agree to the increase, they have to vacate the property.

The RDSC and the law states that when a landlord wishes to evict a tenant, a 12-month eviction notice has to be sent through notary public or registered mail only. It cannot be sent by email.

If you are currently living abroad, you can appoint a power of attorney to look after your affairs when dealing with official matters pertaining to notices or filing a case at the RDSC.

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: August 25, 2022, 4:43 AM
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