Homefront: ‘Can I cancel my rent contract if I lose my job?’

Dubai tenant wants his landlord to waive the rent due without a penalty

Dubai skiline seen from Deyaar properties on Business Bay.
(Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)

Powered by automated translation

My residential rental contract commenced on December 2, 2019. I issued six rent cheques to the real estate agency. Unfortunately, I lost my job in May 2020. Although I managed to pay my rent until June, I have had no luck in finding employment as yet. I cannot afford to pay rent anymore. Out of the six rental cheques, I have not paid two as yet. My contract will end on December 2. What do I do? PJ, Dubai

It is very important to inform the landlord as soon as possible about your situation in order to reach an agreement with regard to the rent. It is always preferable (if possible) to meet face-to-face in order to better explain your situation.

Obviously, if you don’t have an income, it will be difficult to pay your dues but landlords have (in the major part) been sympathetic to tenants’ situations due to Covid-19. If, however, you are not so fortunate to have an understanding landlord, you can always look for guidance to the Dubai Rental Dispute Committee for cancelling your contract with no penalty.

This has been done in many instances during the pandemic this year, where judges have allowed rental contracts to be cancelled without consequences. You have to prove that you have lost your job by sharing relevant documentation such as a termination letter, etc.

However, the best outcome would be to come to some kind of an agreement with the landlord.

Which authority can I approach in Ras Al Khaimah regarding bounced cheques from tenants? RS, Ras Al Khaimah

I suggest your first port of call should be the Ras Al Khaimah Municipality. It is located on Al Nahdha Street, the telephone number is 07 246 6666 and email is info@mun.rak.ae.

I’m sure you would be able to sort out your problem there especially because the cheque is in lieu of a rental payment.

Failing this, you can always file a complaint with the police for a bounced cheque. Please note that the laws have changed and the consequence for the person issuing the cheque that is not honoured (in most cases) is now a fine.

The consequence for the person issuing the cheque that is not honoured (in most cases) is now a fine

In order to minimise the burden on the police, public prosecutors and criminal courts, legislators have introduced a procedure to quickly address minor bounced cheque cases by establishing one-day courts. These courts have the power to issue a decision on minor matters within 24 hours. They can be found in Ras Al Khaimah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Mario Volpi is the sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers. He has worked in the property sector for more than 35 years in London and Dubai. The opinions expressed do not constitute legal advice and are provided for information only. Please send any questions to mario.volpi@engelvoelkers.com