UAE property: ‘Can my landlord sue me for not paying rent?’

The tenant was not evicted despite missing rent payments for months after losing his job

Not paying rent is reason for eviction by a landlord. Getty
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I lost my job on January 31 and have not been able to pay rent for my apartment since February.

I visited my landlord’s office to inform him that I received a job offer and would be able to pay rent from next month. I also wanted to convince him that I would pay the outstanding amount in instalments along with my monthly rent.

But my landlord did not agree to my terms and asked me to pay the entire dues immediately or have a case registered against me.

I can’t afford to pay the rent owed as a lump sum as I have other liabilities to clear. Please advise. ZK, Dubai

The first thing to do is not to panic. It is clear from your letter that you have tried to reason with the landlord, given your situation, but he is either not prepared to listen or he has had enough and simply wants out of this scenario.

It is nobody’s fault but if you cannot come to a mutual agreement, going to the Rent Dispute Settlement Committee (RDSC) may be your only solution.

While I cannot predict exactly what a judge may say, it would be obvious to me that you are now finally trying to repay what is owed, on top of the monthly rent.

The judge will decide if this is reasonable or find favour with the landlord, who is currently out of pocket.

Not paying rent is reason for eviction and you are lucky the landlord didn’t file a case in the past few months.

With situations such as this, it is all about reaching a compromise because it is nobody’s fault. But your lack of employment at the time affected your landlord, so now he is looking for some comfort.

Your offer, no matter how reasonable it seems today, may not be sufficient to the landlord, so let him file a case at the RDSC. This way, you will also have the opportunity to defend your position.

I am concerned that the fees charged by my facilities management (FM) contractor do not comply with clauses in my property’s sale and purchase agreement (SPA).

The contractor wants me to pay Dh6,000 in annual facilities maintenance charges a year before the property’s handover.

They have also cited the absence of a defects liability period, which should commence upon handover, according to the SPA.

The developer is also charging for the issuance of a no-objection certificate (NoC) for a property that has yet to be handed over. Is this correct?

How can I resolve these issues? PH, Abu Dhabi

I will answer your queries to assist you but given the complexity of your inquiry in general and you detailing the specific terms of your SPA, I recommend you also consult a lawyer to help you with this going forward.

With reference to your first point, if the contract specifies that the Dh6,000 has to be paid before handover, then unfortunately this sum has to be paid. If it is not mentioned in the contract, there is no need to pay it.

The FM company cannot hold the property to ransom in this manner if this clause is not in your contract.

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Dubai property apartment prices — September 2022 — in pictures

Your second point mentions a no-defect liability. This exists as per the law and it is valid for 12 months. This cannot be excluded from the contract as the law takes precedence. There is no such thing as a no-defect liability on handover.

To receive an NoC from the developer, charges apply. The cost can be anything between Dh1,000 and Dh2,000 (as a guide), but it is never a percentage of the property’s sales price.

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 22, 2022, 4:00 AM
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