Homefront: ‘My landlord refuses to pay for upkeep of the building’

The Dubai tenant’s maintenance request has not been addressed for 10 months

An employee of ISS A/S, the world's largest cleaning services company, cleans the hallway of an office building in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014. The cost of insuring against a default on debt sold by ISS A/S dropped to the lowest in nine years as owners Goldman Sachs Capital Partners and the billionaire behind Lego A/S target a public share sale. Photographer: Freya Ingrid Morales/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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I rent a one-bedroom apartment in Dubai. The building I live in has not been cleaned for the past few months and the management claims that a new cleaning provider has just been hired.

The building hallway is littered with cockroaches, which have also made their way into the apartment. Although the building management has now called in a pest control company, I continue to see cockroaches inside the apartment.

Also, a window pane in my apartment cracked while I was at work. I informed the maintenance team who agreed to replace the window glass pane. However, it has been 10 months since I lodged this complaint and the window is yet to be fixed. The maintenance team claims that the window pane has not been delivered because the office has not paid the glass delivery company. How can I deal with this situation? YS, Dubai

Given how you speak about the management of the building, I assume your landlord is the developer or a company, rather than an individual. That said, you should state your concerns directly to your landlord. The building management can help but only to a certain degree.

You obviously need to get to the bottom of the problems. So, try to speak to other residents in order to see if they too have had similar issues. If you speak collectively, it will have a bigger impact.

If these maintenance issues are taking too long, you can always look to replace the window pane yourself and reclaim the expense from the landlord via the next rental payments.

Generally speaking, if you are encountering too many issues and this is stopping you from having quiet enjoyment of the rental property, you will have every right to question the validity of the contract. Unless the landlord eradicates or deals with the issues in a timely manner, you will have no alternative but to vacate the apartment.

My rent contract ended and I have been trying to contact the landlord for three months, but the apartment is owned by a company and managed by an agent who is not answering calls, emails, or WhatsApp messages. I have notified the agent, facility management and the company that I don't want to renew the contract.

Facility management did an inspection of the flat and I gave them the keys. However, I don't have any official notification that they have accepted the end of the contract. Can you advise me on what I should do? EG, Dubai

It is extremely odd that despite trying for three months, nobody has replied to you. The good news is that you have proof via email and WhatsApp that you tried to notify them of your intentions not to renew. Legally, a tenant doesn’t actually have to give three months' notice to the landlord for non-renewal but it is always good practice as landlord/tenant relations need to be kept on a good footing.

As you can clearly demonstrate your actions of trying to contact them, there is nothing for you to worry about even though you don’t have final communications from anyone. Your contract is finished and that is the end of it.

If you are encountering too many issues and this is stopping you from having quiet enjoyment of the rental property, you will have every right to question the validity of the contract

Presumably, you handed back the property to facility management in exactly the same condition as it was given and closed all your utility accounts, so owe nothing.

My only concern would be your deposit. If you want it back, keep trying to contact the agent.

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