UAE property: ‘Can my lease be terminated if I partition the unit?’

Any alteration to a rented property must be approved by the landlord in writing

If a tenant carries out work in a property without the landlord's approval, the owner has the right to remove it. Getty Images
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Question: We rented a one-bedroom flat on July 10. We saw a lot of partitions in other flats, so we decided to build the same in our apartment.

Before we started, the building watchman asked us for some money, which we gave him, but he kept coming back for more. So, I asked my husband not to give him any more money.

After a week, the watchman came with someone from the real estate agency and said that building partitions in apartments was not allowed.

The landlord told them to change the lock on our apartment and for the past three days, we have not been able to enter the property.

We are waiting for their decision and have been told that our rental agreement may be terminated.

We knew what we did was not legally acceptable, but why did the landlord allow others to continue with this practice?

If they terminate our contract, what about the cash payments made to the watchman and the post-dated cheques we have issued? Is there any chance we can get it back? CC, Dubai

Answer: Your situation is not so crystal clear to me, but I will try to answer as best as I can.

When you say you took a one-bed, I assume this rental agreement was for the whole flat and not just a portion of it.

That said, if you have rented a whole unit and decided to partition out the property, you need to know that any alteration to a rented property needs to be approved by the landlord in writing first.

If you went ahead and carried out the work without approval, the landlord has the right to remove (at your cost) any works already done.

I obviously cannot explain why the watchman allowed work elsewhere but not for you; however, if you knew this was not allowed and still went ahead, then you obviously understood the risks.

With reference to the return of your money, this is entirely up to the landlord as you are in breach of contract.

The chances are that the landlord will also want some form of compensation from you and your deposit could, therefore, be at risk.

However, the rental money paid ought to be returned, but again, this is at the discretion of the landlord.

I suggest you arrange a meeting with the owner to explain and apologise for the trouble caused in the hope that you will be able to find a solution to the situation you now find yourself in.

Q: I have been living in a rented property in Dubai for the past two years. The property is owned by a company that has been good at maintaining the building and quick to respond to service requests so far.

However, for the past two months, the quality of cleaning services and general upkeep of common areas in the building has declined.

Does my rent cover these services? Can I demand better maintenance standards by the landlord? Please advise. MM, Dubai

A: If I understood correctly, your landlord is a company that administers the upkeep of the common areas and services of the building you live in.

Generally speaking, the owner of the property is the one who pays the service charges and, therefore, has a right to say how these services are delivered to the residents.

In your situation, they are one and the same, so as far as I can see, you absolutely have the right to inform your landlord that over the past few months, the services have declined.

If the company has the building maintenance at heart, it will most definitely look to improve the services, otherwise the building could fall into disrepair and have an adverse effect on its value.

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

Updated: August 03, 2023, 5:36 AM