Homefront: ‘Do I have to move if my landlord intends to sell the property?’

The tenant needs to be served a 12-month written notice sent either via notary public or registered mail

If the new buyer is an owner-occupier, the law will protect the existing tenant by requesting that an additional 12-month notice period is exercised in order to help them move with plenty of notice. istockphoto.com
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I have just learnt that my landlord wants to sell his villa at the expiry of the current rental contract in March 2021. I understand that he needs to serve notice of intent one year in advance, regardless of when the contract will expire. However, I’m not sure if anything has changed regarding this law.

Can you advise me on this law and how I can use it to protect my interests? In addition, I have a documented side agreement with my landlord that states I can remain in the property until March 2022. JA, Dubai

As per Law No 33 of 2008, there are a few ways by which an owner can evict a tenant from a rented property. These are:

1. If the owner wishes to sell the unit.

2. If the owner wishes to use the property for his/her own use or is used by their next of kin of the first degree. In this case, the landlord will also have to prove that he/she doesn’t own another suitable property that could be used instead.

3. If the property needs extensive refurbishing or modernisation that prevents the tenant from living in the unit while works are carried out.

4. If the property needs to be demolished.

For points three and four, the owner will also have to show written approvals or permission from authorities concerned to carry out these works.

For all of the above points, the owner will have to inform you by giving you a 12-month written notice sent either via notary public or registered mail.

Depending on many factors, the sale of the property could take a while to conclude. However, it past cases at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee have shown that judges request the new buyer to also serve a 12-month notice, which could prolong your stay.

If the buyer is an investor, you will be allowed to stay even when the sale is concluded

I stress that laws in the UAE are not set by precedent, so past cases cannot be relied on completely as a form of guarantee. Having said this, it would appear at present that the previous statement is being upheld in times of disputes.

The key to staying on in the property will depend on the buyer’s profile. If the buyer is an investor, you will be allowed to stay even when the sale is concluded. But if the buyer is an owner-occupier, this is where the law will protect you by requesting that the notice period is exercised in order to help you move with plenty of notice.

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