UAE Property: 'Can my landlord evict me and re-let the unit on Airbnb?'

Tenant lost the case despite submitting proof of the property being used as a holiday home

The evicted tenant feels if the landlord rents their property as a holiday home, then it is very difficult to win a case against them. Getty Images
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Question: We received a 12-month eviction notice in December 2021, with the landlord stating he wished to move into the property.

We reluctantly vacated at the end of our contract in October 2022 and moved into a new apartment at a much higher rent.

A few months later, it was brought to my attention that the property was being listed as a short-term rental. We also became aware that the apartment was listed on Airbnb, and a few other portals.

I had paid Dh105,000 a year in rent for the apartment and the landlord was now asking for Dh20,000 a month.

I appointed a lawyer, who said we had a very good case but there was still work to do to prove that property laws had been broken.

The first challenge was that short-term rentals do not have an Ejari. However, they need to have a tourism permit and my lawyer managed to find reference to that application. He took all the listings, converted them into PDFs and translated them into Arabic.

The lawyer also advised me to move into the apartment for a few days or ask friends to do so to get proof.

I did not want to go that far, but managed to get a WhatsApp exchange between the agency representing my landlord and a friend, in which they named the property and offered him dates and a price.

This was also translated and submitted into the case file registered by my lawyer. The landlord subsequently denied all accusations despite our evidence and reviews of the property on booking portals.

A few days after the case was filed, all the listings for the apartment were removed, apart from, which is still live but the date option is not available.

I spoke to the landlord’s agency who verbally admitted that the apartment had been rented out on several occasions, but they no longer represented the client and the last rental was five days after we filed the case.

When I asked the agency to put this in writing, they refused to do so.

The Dubai Land Department kept deferring the case until they appointed an “expert”, for which I had to pay Dh3,000.

All the expert did was visit the apartment with enough notice for the landlord to be present (he lives overseas) and pretend that he was living in the apartment.

Following this, my lawyer said we should try to involve the agency that represented my landlord. However, once the expert’s report came back, we lost the case.

It is unclear as to why Dubai Tourism was unable to send evidence linking the holiday home permit number with tourism taxes that the agency would have paid.

I spoke to the developer of the building, which said the landlord would have had to register details through their portal to rent the apartment as a holiday home. However, they were also unable to submit evidence.

I have an appeal pending for January 2024. I am racking my brains to figure out what we can do to change the narrative.

It seems that if you rent your house as a holiday home, then it is very difficult for an evicted tenant to win a case against the landlord. DS, Dubai

Answer: The law in the UAE is not set on precedent and I believe you lost this case based on the lack of evidence produced at the time to the courts.

If you were to have more concrete proof of proceedings, I am sure the outcome would have been different.

I am absolutely certain that this is not a loophole, because I do not believe a similar case with the right proof would yield the same result.

So, I suggest you continue with your investigation, especially enlisting the help of the agency that dealt with your landlord, or even going to the extreme of knocking on the door to question any occupant, which could be a tenant.

With further evidence, I am hopeful that your January hearing will be a positive one.

Q: My landlord has been sending people to bang on my apartment door, forcing me to open it.

Recently, the landlord visited us and we let him enter the property. He wants to change the lock and evict us without notice.

I am feeling harassed by him. What can I do? MJ, Dubai

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A: I obviously cannot comment too much on the limited information that you have shared.

Unless you describe your situation in more detail, all I can say is that if you are up-to-date with your rental payments and complying with all the clauses of your tenancy agreement, the landlord cannot behave in this manner.

If the reason is because of a rental increase, there needs to be a process before this comes into effect (if at all).

If this harassment continues, I suggest you go to the police.

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: October 26, 2023, 4:00 AM