UAE Property: ‘Can landlords legally turn off air conditioning?’

The Dubai tenant is disputing a rent increase but the property owner now wants them to move out

Landlords in Dubai cannot arbitrarily disconnect the air conditioning in an apartment or villa. Getty Images
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Question: I have been renting an apartment for the past three years and my lease has expired.

My landlord gave me three months' notice before renewal and increased the rent by 15 per cent. I replied via email and declined the rent increase as the Real Estate Regulatory Agency rental index shows that my current rent is correct for this year.

The landlord did not accept this and insisted that my rent had to be increased. He also suggested verbally to find another place if I did not agree.

I disagreed and lodged a case with the Dubai Land Department’s Rental Dispute Settlement Centre. The judge made a decision in my favour and approved my request for no increase in rent.

However, the decision came one day before my tenancy expired. I sent the judge’s decision to my landlord via email and included copies of my cheques based on last year’s rent.

There was no reply to my email but when I spoke to a manager, he said that my offer and deposit had been rejected.

Five days later, the landlord disconnected my air conditioning. I asked the building’s maintenance team to fix it but they said that because my tenancy had expired, they could not provide support.

I mentioned to the maintenance team that I would go to the police to lodge a complaint and called 999. The police came to my apartment and I received an SMS message confirming the case number, but I am unable to find out more information.

I went to police station and asked them what they can do to get my landlord to reconnect the air conditioning but the police said they could not help as it is a case against the landlord and only a court can rule on the issue.

I still don’t have any air conditioning and it is becoming unbearable during the summer. What should be my next course of action? AK, Dubai

Answer: It is true that while the police can perhaps lean on an individual to try to enforce the will on to that party, the fact that you are in dispute with the same individual does mean that you will only get a resolution from the courts.

I suggest you return to the RDSC to enforce the tenancy agreement, especially as the judge found in your favour.

A landlord cannot arbitrarily disconnect air conditioning, as this is not allowed. Therefore, I am absolutely certain that the judge will be able to press ahead with the original judgment and get the landlord to accept the situation.

Another alternative could be to try to negotiate with the landlord. Despite what the Rera rental calculator states is allowed or not for the next renewal, you could also offer to pay an increase albeit less than the 15 per cent that the landlord wanted.

I say this because, despite the law being on your side, this process is clearly stressful, time consuming and very uncomfortable for you and your family.

It is important to try to maintain a cordial business relationship with your landlord and, sometimes, this means agreeing to terms that are perhaps not covered by law.

Q: My husband and I are currently evaluating the purchase of a property to live in Dubai. The property is right in terms of location, our needs align with the space and we are thinking we should move forward with the sale.

When conducting the inspection, we asked the estate agent when the property would be vacant and received some information that is not 100 per cent clear.

The current landlord has rented the property to a tenant who has a contract until February 2024. The landlord served an eviction notice to the current tenant in June 2023.

As the new landlords, do we have to serve the tenant a fresh eviction notice? There is contradicting information and Rera does not always provide the same answer.

Some say a new eviction notice is needed, while others say a communication that there is a change in ownership and the eviction is still valid is sufficient.

We would be OK to wait for 12 months but just want to make sure we do the right thing. FL, Dubai

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A: Despite the fact that the law is not set on precedent, it has been shown in the past that if a tenant files a case at the RDSC, the judge at the hearing is quite likely to request that you will need to serve your own 12 months’ notice to evict the tenant.

I believe the reason for this is that when the current landlord sent his or her own eviction notice, it would most likely have been for the reason of a sale, whereas your reason for eviction is different as it is for your own use.

However, it is up to you to try to negotiate with the current tenant to see if they will agree to vacating in June 2024, as per the original notice from the previous landlord.

By this, I mean offering some sort of compensation to ease the tenant’s decision to move out by this date.

The alternative is that you become a reluctant landlord and serve a new 12-month notice to vacate one year after you officially become the owners.

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: September 07, 2023, 4:00 AM