Homefront: 'Should Dubai tenants give 90 days' notice before moving out?'

The UAE resident wants to know what the penalty is for not alerting his landlord

Residential properties stand in the Old Town Island area, developed by Emaar Properties PJSC, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Tuesday, July 23, 2019. Like the rest of the city, the business center has suffered from a prolonged real-estate slump brought on by oversupply and slower economic growth. Photographer: Christopher Pike/Bloomberg

I have a query on the rental laws between the landlord and a tenant. Does a tenant have to give 90-days' notice to the landlord even for non-renewal upon expiry of the contract? And if the tenant does have to tell the landlord they are moving out 90 days in advance, what financial penalty should they pay for failing to provide the notice? AB, Dubai 

When it comes to renting, there are two very important laws: one is law 26 of 2007, the law governing the relationship between landlords and tenants, and the other is law 33 of 2008, which amended some parts of the former law.

In law 26 of 2007, it does state that 90 days' notice has to be given for any changes to the contract. This is still the case today, however, in 2008 law 33 was introduced and one of its amendments did away with the need to give 90 days' notice when not renewing a contract.

While the above is what the law states, we must now look at the practicalities of this statement. While by law you do not have to give any notice when not renewing your tenancy agreement, this in itself, highlights some issues. Any landlord will be annoyed or angry if their tenant just packs up and leaves on the expiry date. A tenant also has the security deposit lodged with the landlord, which most tenants want back.

Therefore, despite what the law actually states, it is good practice to give your landlord as much notice as possible that you will not be renewing. A good landlord and tenant relationship is a key when renting whether this at the start of a contract, in the middle or indeed at the end of the tenancy.

I presume you are asking this question because you have either not given your landlord any notice or not given the required amount of notice. One very important point is that despite what the law states, the initial default position is what your tenancy contract actually states. If you have a clause within the agreement that says you should give a certain amount of notice (when not renewing), this needs to be adhered to.

If you have broken this clause in the contract, your landlord may wish to impose some form of penalty on you, the amount of which should be stated in the contract. If you do not agree on this penalty amount, you can always file a case at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee (RDSC) in Deira.

If you choose to go down the legal route, any future result will be determined only by the presiding judge because the law is not set on precedent. I stress again, only the judge can decide the outcome.

My advice would be to sit down with the landlord and explain your situation. Tell the landlord you will help (where you can) in facilitating finding another tenant by allowing viewings etc. Remember, the landlord will feel they are in the right if you haven’t stuck to the contract so will look to you for compensation. To mitigate this or indeed the need to file any case at the RDSC, communication and flexibility is the key to success. Finding some common ground between the parties is always better than having to go down any legal route, which can be time-consuming and expensive.

Mario Volpi is the sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers. He has worked in the property sector for 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