UAE Property: ‘Can my landlord ignore Rera's rent calculator?’

Property owner also failed to send notice of his intention to raise the rent at least 90 days before expiry of the contract

A property's rent is determined by the Real Estate Regulatory Agency's calculator. Pawan Singh / The National
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Question: I have lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Dubai since January 2021. The tenancy contract had an expiry date of December 31, 2022.

On December 3, 28 days before the expiry of the contract, I informed my landlord that I would vacate the apartment when the lease expired.

However, due to a medical emergency at home, there was a change in my circumstances.

On December 18, I sent a message to my landlord and said I wanted to renew the lease until December 2023.

However, my landlord is only willing to agree to a new contract if I pay more rent. Currently, my rent is Dh30,000 ($8,168) a year but he is demanding Dh40,000.

Rent for a property in my community is in the range of Dh29,000 to Dh36,000, according to the Real Estate Regulatory Agency rent calculator. No further increase is permissible, according to the calculator.

Also, my landlord did not signal any intention to increase my rent before December 3.

What should I do to continue living in the apartment without a rent increase? NB, Dubai

Answer: The first thing to point out is that your landlord is not allowed to blackmail you in this way as it is illegal.

You are entitled to renew your tenancy contract if that is what you want to do. Your new rent will be determined by the Rera rental calculator, not what the landlord wishes.

However, a good business relationship is important, especially for landlord-tenant harmony.

So, I would suggest that you look at weighing the costs of potentially moving out against any possible rent increase the landlord may want.

Do this for the purpose of finding common ground to stay in your apartment.

You don’t need to do this, but the alternative would be to draw up a contract renewal with no increases, according to what the rental calculator states, and lodge the rent cheques and contract at the Dubai Land Department.

The DLD will then inform the landlord to collect the documents and cheques.

While you would be within your rights to do this, you would effectively ruin whatever business relationship you have with your landlord as this action would go against his wishes.

Sometimes, even though the law is on your side, it is better to try to find an amicable solution so that all parties gain a win-win scenario.

It is true that any changes to the contract, including rent increases, should be communicated in writing, giving 90 days’ notice before renewal.

But you may have to seek alternative solutions to renew the contract.

The law is definitely on your side but sooner or later, the landlord may look to do something that will perhaps make you question your rent agreement.

Q: I own a villa in Dubai. I suspect that my tenant’s next rent cheque that is due in February (for six months’ rent until the end of July) may bounce.

What happens if a tenant’s cheque is rejected?

I was told that there is now an accelerated process to evict a tenant from the property. Is this true and what steps do I have to take? MH, Dubai

A: Not honouring a cheque is no longer the jurisdiction of the police.

However, you can immediately approach the court’s execution judge to order the payment in full or the remaining amount.

Honouring the value of a cheque is an accelerated and easy procedure that preserves the rights of all parties.

The consequences are normally fines of up to Dh10,000, depending on the amount of the cheque.

In terms of evicting the tenant, you will have to file a case at the Rent Dispute Settlement Committee and it will give the tenant 30 days to pay the outstanding amount or face eviction.

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: January 12, 2023, 4:00 AM