Homefront: 'How do I convince my landlord to pay fines imposed by the developer?'

The Palm Jumeirah resident says maintenance teams are banned from visiting the villa until the matter is resolved

The landlord made alterations to the Palm Jumeirah property without the developer's consent before the tenant moved in. Courtesy Nakheel 
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My family and I recently moved into a villa on the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. Unfortunately, the landlord has made some alterations to the property in the past without the developer's permission. The developer has discovered this and levied a fine against the landlord, which he refuses to pay despite my repeated requests.

As a result, the developer has instructed security that no maintenance teams can come to my property. When I questioned this, I was told I have to convince my landlord to settle the fine. This is impossible and it seems unfair that my family should now suffer.

Rather than pressure the landlord themselves, the developer seems to expect me to do it on their behalf. How can I resolve this matter? Please do not ask me to go speak to my landlord. He refuses to even discuss the matter. JS, Dubai 

When tenants pay rent, they do so for two reasons: firstly to have a roof over their heads and secondly to have quiet enjoyment of the property.

These are the two basic principles of renting. When one of these principles is affected, as in your situation, you have the right to call into question the rental agreement itself. You must explain this to the landlord and confirm his understanding of the same. He may continue to refuse to deal with the fine imposed by the developer but by ignoring the situation, he is affecting your quiet enjoyment of the property.
With this in mind, if he insists on doing nothing, you could file a case against him at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee, which will eventually pass a judgment. Your rights as a tenant will not be called into question. However, his initial action of not getting permission from the developer for the alterations is now affecting your tenancy. The judge will act to resolve the issues.

If you choose not to go down this route, your other alternative is to call into question the landlord's ability to fulfil the rental contract. By not paying his dues, he is now affecting your agreement and, as I have already said, your quiet enjoyment of the property.
He needs to understand that unless he deals with his obligations to the developer, he is also failing his obligations to you as his tenant. Ultimately, you could also demand compensation but this will involve more litigation and time.

Your last choice would be to leave the villa. Explain that you didn’t sign up for this and unless he sorts things out, you will have to seek alternative accommodation. I realise this is probably not what you want to do but the ineffective actions, or lack of actions on the part of the landlord, may force your hand.

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