Homefront: ‘My landlord is refusing to return my Dh1,500 security deposit. Is this legal?’

It is important for tenants to remember that properties must be handed over in the original condition

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I vacated my Dubai apartment and handed over the key to the landlord’s agent. However, they refuse to return my Dh1,500 security deposit cheque and are instead demanding another Dh500 for maintenance.

My contract ended five days ago. I shifted to another apartment last week. I have not received a salary for the past three months and my visa expired three-and-half months ago. Can the landlord file a case against me in the Dubai Land Department? RA, Dubai

Please read your rental contract carefully and abide by any clauses that relate to when the tenancy period expires and what you are required to do when you move out.

In most cases, a contract will state that the property has to be returned in the same condition as it was when the tenant moved in. This might include painting, decorating and cleaning. The fact that they are requesting Dh500 could be due to this.

I believe the landlord will not file a case against you, instead preferring to retain your deposit to fund maintenance or redecorating costs to restore the property to its original condition.

My landlord wishes to increase my rent by 5 per cent to Dh105,000. I tried to use the Real Estate Regulatory Agency’s online rent calculator to check if this is permitted. However, it will only allow me to input Dh99,999 instead of Dh100,000. The Dh99,000 amount shows no rental increase is permitted.

My landlord has also not served the 90-day notice period to increase the rent. I have e-mailed the landlord several times but it's been futile. I am looking for advice on how to get my landlord to abide by the law. MW, Dubai

I’m not sure where you are finding the Rera rent calculator online, but the accurate way to check would be to go to your App Store and download the Dubai Rest app.

Any changes to a rental contract have to be communicated in writing, no less than 90 days from the contract expiry date

Through this application, you will be able to input all information such as the size of the property, its location, date of tenancy expiry and current rent. Once you do this, the calculator will tell you if your landlord is permitted to increase the rent or not.

Any changes to a rental contract have to be communicated in writing, no less than 90 days from the contract expiry date. If your landlord has missed this window, he is not legally entitled to increase the rent, regardless of what the Rera calculator says.

If he insists on pushing ahead with the rent increase, you can challenge this by filing a case with the Rent Dispute Settlement Committee, stating that less than 90 days’ notice was served for a rent increase.

All of the above involves time and money, so a better solution would be to meet the landlord and arrive at a compromise. In the long run, it is better this way and you can avoid hassles or headache related to filing a legal case.

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