Homefront: 'Our landlord has found a buyer for our Dubai villa. Do we have to move out?'

The current owner has asked the tenants to vacate by the end of June as the new buyer wants to move in

Deira, November 21, 2010 - A sold sign outside a villa in the Springs in Dubai, November 21, 2010. (Jeff Topping/The National) STOCK  property for sale
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We have a good landlord who needs to sell the villa we are renting. He has now found a buyer and has asked if we can move out by the end of June, as the new buyer wants to live in the property once they have ownership. Our contract ends in October. Do we have to move out straight away? Can we stay until our contract ends? Are we allowed to stay on any longer once our contract ends?
We really like the house and have invested our own money into landscaping the garden. Now it seems we will have to move sooner than we had planned, pay to repaint the villa and have unexpected moving costs and fees. The landlord has been very decent and genuinely needs to sell. What do you advise us to do?
 JA, Dubai 

The first thing to point out is that neither the landlord or the buyer can evict you without your consent. In fact the new owner can only take possession of the property from you after he/she has given you a 12-month written notice to vacate. The buyer has to comply with your current tenancy agreement in its entirety, it cannot be altered until renewal and then only by giving you 90-day notice prior to the expiration. These changes, if any, also have to be agreed upon by all parties.

Law 26 of 2007 is the law that governs the relationship between landlords and tenants in the emirate of Dubai. This law was amended by Law 33 of 2008 which states that the landlord cannot evict a tenant unless he plans to use the property himself, or for his next of kin of first-degree, by giving a 12-month written notice to vacate, which must be sent via notary public or registered mail.

There are 3 other ways a landlord can evict a tenant, always by giving the 12 months written notice: 1. If the landlord wishes to sell; 2. If the property requires extensive modernisation which would prevent a tenant from living in the premises whilst the works are carried out; 3. If the property requires demolition. For these last two points written approvals from competent authorities are also required.

This notice is supposed to be served upon expiry of your tenancy agreement, so in fact you should be able to stay in the property for one more term. Some landlords, however, do not wait to serve the notice at the expiry of the current contract and in some cases the judges at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee uphold this timing. It all depends upon their interpretation of the law at the time of any case brought to them.

In simple terms, if the new landlord were to serve you this notice when he officially becomes the owner in, let's say, a few weeks time, you would have to vacate 12 months from that date. If, however, he serves the notice upon expiry of your current agreement, you would then have to vacate the property at the end of October 2021.

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