UAE Property: ‘Can I increase rent without serving 90 days’ notice?’

A landlord is not entitled to change clauses in a rental contract without giving the statutory three months' notice to a tenant

There has to be written communication from a landlord to their tenant explaining the reason for a rental increase. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Question: I am having issues with my tenants because I failed to give 90 days’ notice to raise the rent.

They have been my tenants for two years. I started the lease at an annual rent of Dh105,000 and increased it to Dh115,000 the following year.

However, they declined to sign the renewal lease for Dh190,000 this year, citing the lack of the 90-day notice.

I dropped the renewal rent to Dh148,000 on compassionate grounds. Now, they want me to renew the lease for the existing rent of Dh115,000.

The lease is up in two days. I am not sure how to proceed in this matter.

I have read your columns about disputes between landlords and tenants. Do I need a lawyer or do I need to contact the Real Restate Regulatory Agency (Rera)? MA, Dubai

Answer: Unfortunately, according to Dubai's rental laws, you are not entitled to change the contents or clauses of your rental contract with the tenant because you did not give the statutory 90 days’ notice for any changes to take effect.

It is regrettable, but these are the facts. You can file a case with the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee in Deira but I suspect you will be wasting your time.

It is true that to keep good business relations going between landlords and tenants, the tenant should look to offer an amount above what the rental calculator states.

However, being reasonable is also important. In my opinion, going from Dh115,000 to Dh190,000, or even Dh148,000, is not reasonable.

I suggest that you agree to the terms of the contract, renew for another year and remember to note the 90-day window for the following renewal.

Q: In one of your earlier columns, you had asked me to wait for the landlord to inform me of his intention 90 days before the expiry of the lease for the villa I rent.

As my contract ends in May, my landlord had verbally informed me that I should start looking for alternative accommodation as he will probably not renew the lease because he needs to refurbish the villa to improve its marketability before selling it.

I would like to send an email to the landlord, requesting a renewal of the lease based on the fact that my son, who is in his final IB year, will sit his exams in April.

Moving out during March or April would be very unfair and unreasonable. Do you see any risk in writing him an email?

Also, if the landlord is forced to renew the lease, I expect him to try to retaliate by increasing the rent significantly. Is the maximum rent increase capped at 5 per cent? MK, Dubai

A: There is no harm in making your intentions known to the landlord, given your family’s situation regarding your son.

However, I don’t know how reasonable the landlord is or will be. My advice remains the same.

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Since your landlord has only given you notice verbally, you do not need to vacate at this time because he has to provide you with the 12-month eviction notice via notary public or registered mail.

Even if he wants to refurbish the property and requests that you leave to do so, he will have to provide you with the same notice.

Hopefully, you can resolve the issue.

In any relationship, especially a business one, if someone is forced to comply against their wishes, this could potentially lead to issues in the future.

Any increase in rent can only happen if two factors are in place.

Firstly, there has to be a communication from the landlord to the tenant, explaining his/her wish for a rental increase, and this communication must be in writing (email is fine) and be given at least 90 days before the expiration of the lease.

Secondly, the Rera rental calculator will advise what increase, if any, will be allowed.

The increase in rent cannot be what the landlord wants from one year to the next.

Mario Volpi is the sales director at AX Capital. He has worked in the property sector for 39 years, in London and Dubai. The opinions expressed do not constitute legal advice and are provided for information only. Please send any questions to m.volpi@axcapital.ae

Updated: February 23, 2023, 4:00 AM