I have just moved into a new apartment in Dubai, only to find it has a serious noise problem from a nearby restaurant. Despite being in a quiet residential area, the restaurant is running its extractor fans from 9am to past midnight every day. The noise from the fans, which are maybe 60 metres from my balcony, makes the outside areas of the apartment almost unusable, and necessitates having the doors and windows shut at all times. I did not notice it when I viewed the apartment (it sounded like a truck parked nearby), and the rest of the area is very quiet.
I have measured the noise, and while it is not at dangerous levels, it is totally intrusive, especially in the evening and is clearly audible inside and out. I feel that not only can I never enjoy the large balcony that I have paid for, but that it is also disturbing me while indoors and while sleeping. I complained to the landlord and the agent, but they don't seem to be taking it seriously and denied that the previous tenant had any problem with it. I will complain to the master developer, but I don't expect they will do anything. I have also appealed on a neighbourhood Facebook group to see if anyone else is disturbed by the noise - I certainly don't see any of my neighbours using their balconies, despite the cooler weather. What are my rights regarding cancelling the contract and moving out, and claiming back the fee from the agent? I have been in the apartment for just under two weeks. MS, Dubai
The subject of noise is an emotive one and just like in your case, when the noise is from a third-party commercial entity going about their business, it is quite difficult to resolve. Before discussing what your rights are, I suggest you contact the building management to highlight your situation and request they come up to your apartment to hear for themselves. In addition, I would also get in touch with Dubai Municipality again to seek further advice on what (if anything) can be done.
A tenant is entitled to quiet enjoyment of a property in return for rent paid. Clearly you are not experiencing this. With reference to your contract, if you decide to leave early, you must abide by the terms and conditions of the agreement. The industry norm dictates the worst-case scenario for you would be to pay two months' compensation to the landlord for breaking your contract early.
I would also ask the landlord to meet you in your apartment so that he can experience firsthand what you are going through. This way, assuming he is reasonable, a mutual agreement can be reached amicably for you to vacate without the penalty clause. As mentioned before, noise pollution is difficult to clear altogether when it comes to commercial businesses, however with my suggestions, I hope you will be able to resolve your situation. If not, then your only viable option is to relocate despite you only moving in a short time ago.
Mario Volpi is the sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers. He has worked in the property sector for 34 years in London and Dubai.
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