UAE property: ‘Can my landlord ask for a higher rent using a DLD valuation?’

A landlord cannot use a valuation certificate for a vacant unit as a bargaining tool during lease renewal

DLD valuation certificates are not currently tested in court and it is up to the presiding judge to decide how to use this evidence. Getty
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My landlord sent me a lease renewal notice 94 days before contract expiry, demanding a 47 per cent increase in rent to Dh250,000, from Dh170,000.

He also attached a Dubai Land Department (DLD) valuation certificate used for vacant properties. The document cited Dh250,000 as the rental value of his villa.

He claims this is the current rent I have to pay in accordance with the DLD valuation.

I told him that this was in breach of Decree Law No 43 of 2013 and not permissible.

My landlord sent me a follow-up email 80 days before contract expiry, stating that he was willing to raise my renewal rent by 20 per cent only to Dh200,000 if I agreed.

Is his revised renewal offer in breach of Law No 43 of 2013 and Law No 26 of 2007, as he tried to change the terms and conditions of my current lease agreement 80 days before renewal?

This strategy seems to be working as some people agree to the landlord’s rental renewal offer and pay whatever rent increase is suggested rather than filing a case with the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee (RDSC). Please advise. PC, Dubai

You are correct about the landlord wanting such high percentage increases and they are in breach of Decree Law 43 of 2013.

DLD valuation certificates are not currently tested in court and given the law in the UAE is not set on precedent, it is up to the presiding judge to decide how to use this evidence, if at all.

The important point to note is that the valuation quoted is for a vacant property. Your rented property is not vacant, so it doesn’t matter what the rental price valuation is because it cannot be deemed valid.

Rental prices have been increasing at a high rate for vacant properties. This is evident online through major property portals, so having a DLD valuation confirming these prices appears irrelevant.

Any changes to a contract have to be sent to all parties, giving 90 days’ notice. Your landlord’s revised offer falls after this window but it could be argued that he opened the subject of an increased rent within the allowed time.

I would suggest you inform the landlord to stick with what the Real Estate Regulatory Authority rental calculator states is allowed and this increase, if any, should be the basis of your renewed rental amount for your contract going forward.

Ultimately, it is up to the two parties to mutually decide whether this falls within or outside of what the law states is allowed.

I recently purchased a villa in Dubai to live in with my family. However, there is a lease valid on the villa for five months until December 27.

Can I send an eviction letter to the tenant to inform them that I don’t plan to renew the lease? Do I still have to send 12 months’ notice to vacate, according to the law? SW, Dubai

Although you bought the villa for your own use, the fact that there is a tenant in situ means you will have to follow set procedures and guidelines to gain vacant possession.

The law states that if you wish to use the villa for your own use or use by next of kin of first degree, you have to send the tenant a notification to vacate.

This document can only be sent via notary public or registered mail and has to give the tenant 12 months’ notice to leave.

This vacating notice should be sent to the tenant upon expiry of the tenancy agreement, that is, shortly before December 27, 2022. However, some judges at the RDSC have allowed the 12 months’ notice to be served at any time.

Therefore, you can send the notice any time from now, but will have to wait one year before being able to move in.

Alternatively, you can set up a meeting with the tenant — face-to-face is always better — to ask them what their intentions are beyond the end of the contract and also explain the reason why you bought the property in the first place.

It is possible to negotiate with your tenant or to offer them an incentive to request they move out by the end of the year. Both these options will ensure you have vacant possession but one will cost you time while the other could cost you money.

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: September 01, 2022, 4:00 AM
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