UAE Property: 'Who pays for maintenance of a rental unit?'

Landlords have certain responsibilities towards the tenant and the upkeep of the property

In Dubai, tenants typically pay for repairs if they cost less than Dh500. Image: The National
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Question: We have been renting an apartment in Dubai Marina for the past three years. The lease is due for renewal in the next couple of months.

We are having issues with the washing machine, electric hob and oven, and they need to be replaced.

The agent has refused to help with the issue, telling us to do without them and if we don't like it, we can vacate the property as the landlord feels he is losing out on low rent because he is restricted by the Real Estate Regulatory Agency rental calculator.

The broker has also refused to pay for air conditioning and duct cleaning in the past, so we have done that ourselves.

We have never been able to speak with the landlord, as the broker has represented him from the beginning.

Given the issue with the washing machine and electric hob, is there anything we do? Or can the broker actually ask us to leave without a valid reason? RT, Dubai

Answer: When a property is rented, the landlord has certain responsibilities towards the tenant.

The tenant pays rent in order to achieve “quiet enjoyment” of the property in return for this rent payment.

The responsibility of maintenance falls on to the landlord in exchange for the above.

In Dubai, we generally adopt the norm that any amount under Dh500 ($136.14) should be paid for by the tenant for any maintenance issues. Above this figure, it should be paid for by the landlord.

Neither a landlord nor their representative – in this case, the agent – can request that you accept these maintenance issues or leave. That's not how it works.

I also understand that due to the Rerarent calculator, some landlords could feel they are not getting the maximum rent applicable, especially when you consider what vacant market rents are achieving.

If the broker doesn't understand this and you cannot directly speak to the landlord, I suggest your only other way of negotiating is to file a case at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee to request legal representation to push through what is your right.

Q: We rent an apartment that is fully furnished, as do many other residents in the community that we live in.

Residents are now coming to the end of their first annual contract and are being told of a 10 per cent to 15 per cent annual rent increase.

However, the Rera calculator for the area states that no rental increase is permitted. The landlord claims that the Rera index does not apply as the units are furnished.

The units are regular apartments and we have standard contracts, have Ejaris, have paid deposits, as well as pay for Dewa and district cooling bills. They are not hotel apartments by any means.

Instead, they are standard apartments with some furniture and kitchen appliances. We also has the regular offerings of any other community within Dubai, such as a gym and swimming pool.

Is this interpretation of the rental laws by landlord correct? Or are we within our rights to refuse the rental increase? TB, Dubai

A: It is true that the Rera rent calculator does not take into consideration furnished or unfurnished apartments or villas. However, what the landlord is saying is also incorrect.

To reach a common ground regarding the issue, I suggest the landlord uses the Dubai Land Department's rental valuation service.

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This will go some way in addressing the discrepancy in rent that the Rera calculator provides.

Once this has been done, decree 43 of 2013 under the property law will take over and this will then decide the amount the landlord can ask for at the next renewal.

It is important to note that the future amount cannot be more than 20 per cent in any one year.

However, if you still do not agree with the increase, you can contest it with the RDSC and let the presiding judge of the day settle the matter.

This will cost 3.5 per cent of the current rental amount but if you win the judgment, the costs are often added to the claim.

Mario Volpi is the sales director at AX Capital. He has worked in the property sector for 40 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: March 14, 2024, 4:00 AM