UAE Property: ‘Should tenants pay for repairs after moving out?’

A property should be returned to the landlord in the same condition that it was offered at the start of the lease agreement

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Question: I rented out my new apartment two years ago. However, my tenant recently moved out of the property.

An inspection company that assessed the property after the tenant moved out suggested that I repaint the unit.

However, the tenant has refused to pay for minor damages in the property or repaint it.

He has also asked me not to deduct any money from his security deposit. Is he right? MO, Dubai

Answer: Landlords hold on to a security deposit in case repairs are needed at the property after the tenant has vacated, or in case of any outstanding invoices such as utility charges.

The property should be returned to the landlord in the same condition that it was offered to the tenant at the start of the lease agreement.

If your apartment was new, I presume all the paint work was in excellent condition on handover.

You would be within your rights to claim the cost of repainting and cleaning, and/or repairing anything to return the unit to the same condition at handover.

The tenant can either pay for the work and you return the security deposit in full, or you use the deposit to do the work and return the remaining funds to him.

Q: My landlord served me with a 12-month eviction notice on March 31 last year and I need to vacate the property by April 1.

However, the owner is set to sell the property well before the expiry of his eviction notice.

If the transfer of ownership happens before the eviction date, does the new owner have to serve me a separate 12-month eviction notice?

If so, will the old lease terms (such as rent) be valid until the end of this new eviction notice?

If I agree to vacate the property many months before the eviction date, can I claim compensation from the new owner? JS, Dubai

A: In the past, some judges at the Rent Dispute Settlement Committee have requested the new owner of a rented property to issue their own 12-month notice to vacate, if they or their next of kin to the first degree need to use the property.

This is irrespective of the old owner having already served a 12-month eviction notice.

However, it is not guaranteed that this judgment will be carried out all the time as it is up to the judge at the RDSC to decide.

The old contract or lease has to be adhered to in its entirety and only changes communicated in writing 90 days before the renewal date will be allowed. So, your contract terms should remain the same as before.

In case you decide to vacate the unit earlier, it is up to you to negotiate and agree with the new owner regarding any compensation owed.

Q: My tenant recently vacated the apartment I own but left an outstanding air-conditioning bill of about Dh4,000.

He handed over a cheque to the building's management but when I deposited it in the bank, it bounced.

I sent him a message but he wants me to release his security deposit of about Dh4,300 before he can pay the outstanding bill.

However, the tenant caused damage to the property, which now has leakages, defective lights and holes drilled in the walls. I can assess the cost of damage only after consulting with my contractor.

Meanwhile, the building's management is asking me to pay the air conditioning bill as soon as possible because I need to move into the apartment. What can I do? SM, Dubai

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A: If you trust your tenant, then go ahead and refund the deposit to allow him to pay the air conditioning bill.

However, I am sure you do not have faith in him. Returning the deposit will weaken your position to retrieve any money.

The only solution I can propose is if the tenant can leave something of value for you to hold as security — but only if they are happy to do so as a gesture of goodwill.

Once you are in possession of this, you can perhaps return the deposit money for him to then pay the outstanding bill.

When he would like his item returned, he can pay you what is owed to retrieve it.

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 19, 2023, 4:00 AM