Homefront: ‘How do I get my security deposit back from the landlord?’

The Dubai resident’s lease was in the name of her husband, who has now left the country

Abu Dhabi - June 16, Studio shots of UAE Dirhams. ( Philip Cheung / The National ) *** Local Caption ***  PC0102-Currency.JPGPC0102-Currency.JPGPC0102-Currency.JPG
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I’ve been living in a rented apartment under my husband’s name but he had to leave the country in October 2019. We decided that I would continue to lease the apartment until the contract expires. We contacted the broker and prepared a document for me to get the security deposit back.

When the contract ended, I asked if I could move to a cheaper apartment in the same building but the property agency refused, saying that the prices quoted are for new tenants only. They said it is not normal for an existing tenant to move from an annual rent of Dh52,000 to Dh40,000 in the same building.

I left the building and am currently trying to get the security deposit as agreed with the agency before my husband left. Initially, the agency said they had lost the document, then they asked for a new one and my documents, and now they claim it is not possible for me to get the deposit back.

The agency insists my husband has to come to Dubai to get the refundable deposit. He sent them several emails and documents but the agency has stopped responding. AR, Dubai

The subject of a tenant’s security deposit is possibly the most common form of query I receive and one that sooner or later has to be resolved because there are always too many disputes or anomalies involved between landlords and tenants.

In terms of advice, unfortunately there are only two things you can do now:

The first is to insist on a meeting at the agency. It is clear to me that their refusal to cooperate is down to either a lack of understanding or a training issue. You will have to be persistent in your approach because if your husband wishes to get the deposit back, they must abide by this. However, this means that a personal visit might be the only way to follow this through.

I say this because if they are ignoring your calls and emails, and they have left you without any alternatives. During this difficult period, some offices are working at a lower capacity, so it may take a while before you get an appointment. When you do, perhaps you can also call your husband at the same time and let him speak directly to the agency manager about how to return the deposit.

I know all of this comes across as being a lot of hassle but you have the right to get your deposit back so you need to carry on.

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There are always too many disputes or anomalies involved between landlords and tenants around security deposits

As I said, until arrangements for deposits are organised, such as an escrow account where all deposits are placed in safekeeping, tenants will have to continue to fight for their rights.

If all of the above either comes to nothing or you still don’t get satisfaction, your final option would be to file a case at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee at the Dubai Land Department in Deira. They may also be working at reduced capacity so please be mindful of this.

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

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