Question: I’m in the second year of my rental agreement for a townhouse. At the end of the first year of the contract, the landlord wanted to raise the rent but couldn’t do so as he had not given me three months’ notice.
Out of good will, I offered him Dh5,000 ($1,361) in cash upon renewal of the lease.
A few days later, he sent me a notarised letter serving me with 12 months’ notice to move out. The landlord said he planned to sell the property and it was easier to sell if buyers knew there are no tenants in situ.
My second year of tenancy will end in October. For the past few months, the landlord has been sending agents with clients for viewings. However, the sale has not happened yet.
Upon inquiring with one of the agents, I found out that the landlord has quoted an exorbitantly high price, which makes the sale unlikely.
This has revived my suspicions that he is using the sale as an excuse to evict me, so he can bring in new tenants and charge them a higher rent than what I’m paying.
Do I have a legitimate case here? If the sale isn’t finalised by the end of October, does the landlord have the right to evict me and bring in new tenants?
Also, if he manages to sell the property, can the new owner rent it to someone else?
As the eviction notice stated that the landlord needs me out at the end of 12 months because he intends to sell the property, can he decide to move in himself or can his relative move in?
Can I let the landlord know now that I wish to renew my rental agreement in case he doesn’t sell and also to make him subtly aware that I know the law and he cannot re-let for two years? This way, he is fully aware that either he sells the property or lets me stay. JL, Dubai
Answer: This issue is not that uncommon and one that a tenant needs to be aware of.
Landlords are restricted and always looking for creative ways to ensure they can rent or sell a property when it is empty.
That said, I would advise the following. In case you do not file a case at the Rent Dispute Settlement Committee, if the 12 months expire and no buyer has been found, unfortunately, you will have to vacate the property.
But it is important to keep yourself updated about the status of the property after you have moved out.
The landlord is not allowed to evict a tenant and then re-let the property to another renter. They are not allowed to re-let the property for two years from your eviction date, given their reason for eviction was to sell.
If you find out that this has happened, you have every right to file a case at the RDSC for unfair eviction and the judge will hopefully find in your favour.
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You can claim compensation, which could amount to one year’s rent and possibly costs, too.
You will need to have evidence that within the two-year period of your eviction, the property was let to another tenant.
As the property is a townhouse, you will have to get the security personnel on your side because only they can confirm that a new tenant has moved in.
Should this happen, use this information (in writing, if possible) as your evidence when you file for compensation at the RDSC.
If the landlord doesn’t sell the property, he has to offer you first right of refusal to move back into the unit.
The alternative is he can move in himself or his first degree next of kin but, given this would be a different reason than selling, I suspect the judge would request the owner to send another notice citing the new reason.
It is also important to note that if a buyer is found and they are an investor, they cannot request you to vacate and then re-let the property again. This is not allowed.
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 email@example.com