Homefront: ‘My landlord won't drop the rent. Can he force me to renew the lease?’

The Dubai resident wants to move out and is willing to forfeit her deposit to ensure a smooth exit

The landlord says he will not offer a no-objection certificate if the Jumeirah Village Circle tenant refuses to renew the lease. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
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My apartment tenancy contract ended on July 8. In May, I contacted the landlord and said I would agree to renew the contract on the basis of a negotiated rent. I have proof of this in the form of a text message. Since then, we have been going back and forth but we cannot agree.

He wants a rent of Dh73,500 – a reduction of Dh500 from last year – but according to the Real Estate Regulatory Agency, the rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Jumeirah Village Circle should be between Dh50,000 to Dh61,000.

I have sent letters to let my landlord know I will not be renewing and will move out of the unit. I also suggested he keep my deposit to end the situation amicably. My landlord has now given me an ultimatum via email to either sign the renewal contract or face an automatic renewal.

He says he will not give me a no-objection certificate (NOC) to allow me to leave. What can I do? I can't afford to make a case against him. I have already found another apartment in the building. AM, Dubai

Your landlord cannot hold you to ransom in the manner you have described. Even if you do not want to renew your contract due to a breakdown in negotiation, he cannot refuse this.

It is true that a contract does automatically renew but not in the way he says. There still has to be an agreement in place and clearly there is not. What he is saying, therefore, is not correct and you do not need an NOC from the previous landlord to move on.

Strictly speaking, you do not owe him any financial gain to vacate, but I do understand why you would offer your deposit for a smooth transition.

I understand you do not wish to file a case against him due to financial reasons but remember that if you do and the judge finds in your favour, you normally also get your costs included with the judgment. If you still cannot find an amicable solution when speaking directly to the landlord, you could suggest that he file a case. This way, your side of the story can still be heard.

From what you are telling me, a judge would most likely rule in your favour, so there is nothing to fear should he go ahead and file a case himself. I suggest you go about your business and let him make the moves.

In today’s market, it is imperative that the parties find a solution that caters for all. Often, this means people having to give up some of their rights, especially when it comes to the rent itself, the number of cheques and so on.

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