Homefront: ‘Should a tenant give 90 days' notice if they are not renewing a rental contract?’

An amendment to the law has taken away the need to serve notice, but it has to be adhered to if it is stipulated in the contract

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I have a query on the rental law for issues arising between a landlord and tenant. Does a tenant have to give 90 days’ notice to the landlord for non-renewal of the tenancy contract when there is an ongoing dispute? If the tenant notifies the landlord about non-renewal 40 days before the contract ends, can the latter demand a penalty and deny issuing a no-objection certificate?

Can the landlord also stop the tenant from taking his possessions out from the building before the last date of the tenancy contract? Please advise. PA, Dubai

The government amended amended some parts of Law 26 of 2007 with Law 33 of 2008. This is the law that governs the relationship between landlords and tenants. It is the former law that did away with the need for tenants to give 90 days’ notice to landlords for non-renewal of their tenancy lease. So, irrespective if the tenant is presently in a dispute with the landlord, there is no need to give 90 days' notice. That said, if the rental contract states that 90 days’ notice is required for non-renewal, then the tenant must adhere to this clause.

When it comes to tenancy disputes, the presiding judge will decide what will take precedence – the rental agreement or the current law.

If the rental contract also states that a landlord can levy a penalty on the tenant for early termination, this also has to be adhered to, unless you have good reason to question it and enter into dialogue with the landlord about it.

Lastly, on the subject of removing items of furniture from the property, often this is only allowed when accompanied with a no-objection certificate from the landlord. This note has to be shown to the security of the development/project before moving items. Therefore, the key is to reach a mutual agreement with the landlord before making arrangements to move out.

Is an owners’ association allowed to charge current property owners with unpaid service charges payable by previous owners? The developer of the project issued a no-objection certificate for sale to the previous owner and the transaction was successfully completed at the Dubai Land Department.

It seems the developer collected reduced service charges from previous owners without obtaining approval from the Real Estate Regulatory Agency. The new OA, which is a sister company of the developer, has now requested Rera approval for higher service charges due over the previous years. The OA wants to collect the amount backdated by 10 years from current owners.

As far as I understand, this is not possible under civil law that dissociates different owners as separate legal entities. Hence, there is no inheritance of debt of any sort. Kindly confirm if this is correct. MK, Dubai

The OA management cannot backdate or charge current owners any unpaid service charges as there is no such thing as an inheritance of debt

Owners’ associations are non-profit organisations that manage jointly owned properties such as buildings and/or communities that have multiple title deeds. As an owner yourself, you have the right to access the OA’s written records concerning your property and the community.

You will be able to look at financial accounts, minutes of board meetings or general assembly meetings, insurance policies, the register of all contracts, the register of assets and the annual budget. In doing so, you will gain valuable information in order to help you going forward.

In answer to your question, you are correct that the OA management cannot backdate or charge current owners any unpaid service charges as there is no such thing as an inheritance of debt in these cases.

I advise you and other unit owners to collectively file a complaint at the Rera as the entity is responsible for approving service charges. You can state that your OA management is subscribing to unfair business practices.

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