Homefront: 'I bounced nine rental cheques despite asking the landlord for a short delay'

The tenant's salary is paid late every month, but the landlord refused to adjust the day he deposited the cheque

The law related to bounced cheques changed in Dubai in 2017. Getty Images
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I rented a studio in Abu Dhabi and signed a contract for a year. After signing the cheques for the property, my company started delaying my salary payment. I approached the landlord and asked him not to deposit the cheque on the date mentioned to avoid it bouncing.

I requested an eight-day delay on each monthly cheque to allow my salary to come in, but he refused and deposited the cheque on the mentioned dates. It meant the cheque bounced every month. When my salary eventually dropped, I would then go and pay him in cash to cover the bounced amount, however, he never gave me a receipt to prove I had paid him.

This went on for nine months, so I asked him to return all the cheques I had given him. He refused saying I must pay Dh500 for each bounced cheque before he would give them to me. I told him I did not have the money and that he could keep the cheques for now. However, I demanded he give me a receipt for the rent I have paid to cover the nine months. He refused and then started cutting my electricity and AC on a regular basis.

I later told him I would not honour the remaining three months' rent unless he gave me a receipt for the nine months. Alternatively, I again demanded he give me back my cheques. He did not agree and now my AC has been cut off for three months because I have refused to pay due to him not giving me any proof of payment. Also my contract is not registered. What should I do? EV, Abu Dhabi 

Your situation is not ideal for you or your landlord: in your case because of the delay in your employer paying your salary; for the landlord it is the bounced cheques. The landlord, however, is clearly not being sympathetic especially as you do pay your rent — albeit late in cash.

The reason the landlord is requesting the penalty of Dh500 per bounced cheque is presumably due to the clauses in your tenancy contract stating this and also to cover any bank charges attracted by the returned cheque. The landlord, however, is not allowed to cut off your AC or water so for this you can go to the police to file a complaint. You can also file a complaint at the rent committee but unfortunately as your rental contract is not registered, your complaint is weakened.

My advice is to remove yourself from this situation and to give your landlord the statutory two months' notice of non renewal, seeking alternative accommodation going forward.

The real issue is the fact you are paid late by your employer every month. I suggest you seek further advice from the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation.

Mario Volpi is the sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers. He has worked in the property sector for 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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