I have a tenant who has not paid rent in the final quarter of the tenancy contract, which is supported by post-dated cheques. He normally pays through bank transfer.
Should I lodge a complaint with Dubai Police about the bounced cheque? Or should I lodge a complaint with the Real Estate Regulatory Agency? Since I do not want to renew the contract with the tenant, should I send him an email or do I need to involve Rera? Two months of rent are pending on the tenancy contract. SB, Dubai
If you wish to lodge a complaint with the police, you can do so. While it is a criminal offence to write a cheque with no intention of honouring it, the police now only have powers to fine the individual. The size of the fine is determined by the amount of the bounced cheque.
People who have bounced cheques for up to Dh50,000 are fined Dh2,000, while those who bounce cheques between Dh50,000 and Dh100,000 pay a Dh5,000 fine, while a Dh10,000 fine is imposed for bounced cheques between Dh100,000 and Dh200,000.
When a case is opened with the police, they will automatically impose a travel ban on the tenant. But remember that the police will give the tenant some time to pay up.
However, if you want to file a case at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee, which is located at the Dubai Land Department, you will initially be asked to give the tenant a 30-day written notice to pay up. If you have already done this, you can open a case.
It will cost you 3.5 per cent of the rental amount to file a case. Normally, if a party wins a case, the court fees are included within the award.
If the tenant pays up and decides to renew the contract, you must agree to do so. The only way you can evict the tenant is if they don't pay the rent and fail to rectify it within the given timeframe.
When will the three-year rent freeze law come into force in Dubai? Regarding rent increases permitted by Rera, can you advise me if the below is correct?
On its website, Rera says: "As a property owner, if your property qualifies for a rental increase, you must issue your tenants with a notarised rent increase letter 90 days before renewing the rental agreement.
This letter can be personally handed to them, left at the door or even sent via mail. The failure to do so means that the tenants are not compelled to succumb to the rental increase."
Is it possible to do this via WhatsApp rather than a notarised letter? TM, Dubai
It is important to note that the three-year rent freeze is a proposal, and has not been ratified yet. As to when this will come into play is anyone’s guess, but rest assured that it will apply retrospectively to existing contracts as well as new ones.
Law 33 of 2008 amended some parts of Law 26 of 2007 which governs the relationships between landlords and tenants. It states that any changes to an existing rental contract needs to be communicated at least 90 days prior to the expiration of the contract. This communication has to be put in writing but does not need to be notarised, so an email is sufficient.
Landlords can only increase rent if the Rera rental calculator allows it; if they have communicated the changes within the 90-day notice period; and if all parties agree to the changes.
If the landlord is allowed to increase the rent but the tenant doesn’t agree, the latter has no alternative but to vacate the premises.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org