Homefront: 'Can I challenge a Dh7,000 damage claim by my former landlord?'

The tenant has moved out of the Dubai studio apartment but is now being asked to pay for minor maintenance

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, JUNE 14, 2015. Dubai's skyline. Photographer: Reem Mohammed / The National *** Local Caption ***  RM_20150614_HELI_031.JPG
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My family of four lived in a studio apartment for a year. After handing the keys back to the facilities management team, an inspection was carried out that found small cracks that were barely visible. We were then told we would be charged about Dh7,000 and I am still waiting for the final quote. Dh7,000 is too much for a studio. No checklist was carried out before we moved in. I have heard of other tenants complaining too. What do we do about this? JD, Dubai 

This problem is all to familiar and stems from not having an initial point of reference at the start of your tenancy agreement, such as a condition report. Unfortunately, you are now at the mercy of the management company, who will obviously argue in favour of the landlord to deflect their responsibility on to you. There is not much you can do other than to fight your corner via a face-to-face meeting with the management company to explain your position. Fairness also has to come into play, including reasonable wear and tear but even this is very subjective and open to different interpretations.

I agree that Dh7,000 seems on the high side for a studio apartment, however if you can bring the property back to the standard the management company is requesting by sourcing more reasonable quotes, then this could solve the problem.

Although not guaranteed to succeed, you could try and club together with the other tenants to add weight to your argument.

I bought an off-plan property and now want to get out of the contract. Due to an administrative error on the developer's behalf, my property has not been registered with the Dubai Land Department yet, hence no Oqood has been issued. Does this alter my position and help me get out of the contract? Simply put, how can I be responsible for a property that's not even registered in my name? JM, Dubai 

When buying an off-plan property, both parties —  buyer and developer —are bound by the contents of the the sales and purchase agreement (SPA). Deviations from what is agreed upon within the contract can and will attract penalties or consequences.

The fact that the registration has not yet been completed does not negate your responsibilities as per the SPA. in simple terms, the consequences of non-registration to date does not mean you are not the legal buyer of your unit. The developer is responsible to register the unit at the DLD.

While I do not know the exact contents of your SPA, there are consequences in law for delayed projects and these will be considered should you decide to file a case against the developer. I assume the developer has communicated to you exactly what is happening with your Oqood registration as this obviously needs to be resolved, administrative error or not. Taking all this into consideration, your position has not altered.

Mario Volpi is the sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers. He has worked in the property sector for 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