Homefront: ‘Can I renew my lease despite the property’s new owner planning to move in?’

The landlord must serve the tenant 12 months' written notice when the current contract ends

Young couple receiving apartment key from landlord or real estate agent, Germany
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I signed a one-year rental contract for a villa in Dubai in July last year. In January this year, my landlord informed me that he is selling the property. During a recent viewing, the new owner told me that they are buying the house to live in and would like to move in as soon as possible upon expiry of my tenancy agreement.

When I moved to this house, I incurred costs of approximately Dh20,000 on broker commission, relocation charges and landscaping, and intended to stay in this property for at least three years.

What options do I have at the expiry of my lease? Ideally, I would like to renew the rental agreement for one year or at least get reimbursed for the costs I incurred.

I understand that the new owner needs to provide me 12 months' notice in accordance with law. Can he ask me to leave at the end of the lease in July without giving me the option of renewal? What if he demands an unreasonable increase in rent to force me to leave? MQQ, Dubai

It is important to know that a tenant has several rights when it comes to renting in the emirate of Dubai. The first thing to understand is that you retain your right of renewal and therefore you can stay in the property for however long you choose to, unless the landlord gives you 12 months’ written notice to leave. This notice should be served to you upon expiry of your current tenancy contract and be communicated via notary public or registered mail. It cannot be verbal or sent as an email as these do not count as official notifications.

The buyer, who will become your landlord, is obviously expecting you to vacate so he can move in at the end of the agreement (July) but if you wish to renew your contract, you have the right to do so. In the event the new landlord will demand a ridiculous rent, you are at liberty to seek justice by filing a case at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee, stating the landlord is being unreasonable and obviously trying to get you out.

In the event the new landlord will demand a ridiculous rent, you are at liberty to seek justice by filing a case at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee

If all this sounds stressful not to mention time-consuming, your alternative would be to agree to move out at the end of your current term but on the condition of being paid a compensation package to the tune of Dh20,000. This way, he gets the property back in order to live in it at the end of your current contract and you are not out of pocket either for having stayed there just one year. Although you will have to find somewhere else to move to, you will have plenty of notice/time in order to do this, which is a win-win for everybody.

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