Homefront: 'I'm on unpaid leave and my landlord is chasing me for rent. How do I pay?'

The Dubai resident has been told to stay at home by her employer until further notice

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , April 17– 2020 :- View of the empty roads in Dubai Marina in Dubai. Dubai is conducting 24 hours sterilisation programme across all areas and communities in the Emirate and told residents to stay at home. UAE government told residents to wear face mask and gloves all the times outside the home whether they are showing symptoms of Covid-19 or not.  (Pawan Singh / The National) For News/Online/Instagram
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I work in the hospitality industry and have been told to stay at home by my employer until further notice. The problem is that my company does not provide accommodation for us and we normally pay the rent ourselves. With no income, however, who is responsible as I cannot afford the rent now? Every day the landlord asks us for the rent money and it is a very difficult time. Where can I go for help as this is becoming unbearable? RP, Dubai 

This is a difficult situation for everyone and as such we have to do the best we can by finding solutions that might only be temporary rather than permanent.

The Federal government has worked hard to put in place some excellent measures to help ease the financial burden of this time for residents, with some measures also applicable to tenants and landlords. These have come in the form of discounts on utility bills and government fees, together with relief to anyone who has loans through the banks.

The government has also validated expired residence visas until the end of this year, eased car registration rules and continues to look to help us as the situation moves onwards. When it comes to your living expenses, the only advice I can give you is to speak to your current landlord and request financial relief while your employment situation clears up. This situation is nobody’s fault and as we are all in it together, hopefully your landlord will be more sympathetic than normal and come up with a mutual relief agreement.

The important point at the moment is that you need more time in order to pay while you are stuck at home and not working. Presumably when you do return to work, you will be able to repay for the lost time. It is important to note that rental evictions in Dubai have been banned during March and April, so no landlord can evict tenants during this time. Point this out to your landlord as it gives you time to repay once the situation eases.

Understanding and compassion are required from all parties, as it is possible the landlord could also be suffering with their own personal financial issues at the moment. If this is the case and the landlord is based in the UAE, they can approach their mortgage lender to ask for a repayment holiday to cover the period when no rental income is coming in.

Technically, we have to help each other get through this as there is nothing in law to cover what we are currently experiencing.

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