Homefront: ‘Can I end my tenancy contract early due to poor property maintenance?’

The real estate broker continued to ignore the Dubai tenant’s request until he served a notice to vacate the apartment

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I have a query on the early termination of my tenancy contract in Dubai due to maintenance issues with the property.

For more than three months, I’ve been corresponding with the real estate broker via Whatsapp and email, and have had multiple calls regarding issues in the apartment we moved into in March 2020.

The issue at the top of the list is an annoying machine sound from an air conditioning unit installed below our apartment. There are many more issues as well. I’ve requested the real estate broker to tell us the steps we need to take to vacate the premises, however, they continue to ignore my emails.

We wouldn’t have gone through this trouble if the building had been managed by the real estate company with whom I drew up the contract. Now, the landlord’s real estate company is managing the building and I haven’t signed a new contract with them. We do not intend to continue in this apartment.

A staff member from the broker’s office recently visited my apartment claiming that the issues will be fixed. However, I conveyed our frustration and desire to leave since we should have been provided a response three months ago and not when a request is raised to vacate.

I would like to check if tenants are protected from paying any penalties due to early termination of a contract arising from negligence by the landlord or real estate broker. I have all my emails and other correspondence as evidence. JKR, Dubai

I would firstly draw your attention to your tenancy contract. It will outline what penalties there are, if any, for early contract termination. That said, if you are requesting early termination of the contract due to not being able to have quiet enjoyment of the property, this throws the issue of landlord compensation wide open.

Normal contracts that have break clauses, more often than not, have a compensation clause of approximately one to two months’ penalty from the tenant to the landlord. If, due to the landlord’s negligence, you are now not experiencing quiet enjoyment of your property, you would have every right to want to leave.

If, due to the landlord's negligence, you are now not experiencing quiet enjoyment of your property, you would have every right to want to leave

In order to try to resolve things amicably, I suggest you try to speak directly to the landlord, explaining that if you had known of the noise made by the A/C unit in the property, you would not have signed the tenancy agreement. If it is not possible to have a meeting with the landlord directly, try where possible to meet with the highest person within the real estate company. This way, you know you are speaking to someone in authority.

If all else fails, I suggest you file a case with the Rental Dispute Settlement Centre, which will consider the case carefully and judge accordingly.

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