Homefront: ‘Will the sale of the property we live in affect our rights as tenants?’

When a rental property is sold, the terms and conditions of the tenancy contract remain the same

Young couple receiving apartment key from landlord or real estate agent, Germany
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We moved into our villa on July 1, 2020, and our lease terminates on June 30, 2021. We paid Dh100,000 for one year’s rent.

On October 6 last year, we received a letter giving us a year’s notice that the owner intended to occupy the property for personal use.

However, in the meantime, the house was sold. The new owner then sent us a WhatsApp message claiming that our tenancy ends on June 30 and if we want to renew, it will cost us Dh135,000.

I believe that the new landlord cannot do this. My understanding is that despite the property changing hands, we are not obliged to vacate until October 5. I also think the new owner is limited by how much he can increase the rent, especially without serving a 90-day formal notice.

Does the property sale have any bearing on our rights? What is the situation with the new owner, who wants to let the property, not occupy it? CC, Dubai

If a notice to vacate for reasons of own use has been sent legitimately, then this is valid. However, if the landlord has changed because the property has been sold, this notice is no longer valid as the landlord cannot possibly move in given it is sold.

When it comes to the changing of a landlord, the terms and conditions of your existing tenancy remain the same and if the new landlord wants to move in for his or her own use, they will have to send a new 12-month vacating notice.

With reference to any rental increase or changes to the contract, the landlord will have to communicate these changes in writing (email is okay) giving 90 days’ notice. If the landlord sends the notice outside of the legal notice period of 90 days, the changes are not valid.

With reference to any rental increase or any changes to the contract, the landlord will have to communicate these changes in writing (email is okay) giving 90 days' notice

To clarify your question, the new owner cannot ask you to leave at the termination of your rental contract on June 30 unless they want to move in themselves, in which case they would have to send you their own 12-month notification of eviction.

If they bought the property as an investment to rent out, you can stay as long as you like, providing you remain within the law and the terms of your contract and pay the rent accordingly.

If you agree to the landlord’s rental increase, despite it being given outside of the 90-day window, the allowable amount under the law would be governed by the rental index on the Dubai Rest mobile app.

When a rental property is sold, the terms and conditions of the contract remain the same, unless otherwise agreed.

I am a landlord and the tenancy renewal date for my property is on July 6, 2021. I told my tenants on May 22 that I am struggling financially and therefore need to increase the rent. They said that I must serve three months' notice prior to tenancy renewal and so I cannot increase the rent. Please advise what I can do. SS, Dubai

As per Law 33 of 2008, any changes to a rental contract have to be communicated in writing to the affected party giving at least 90 days’ notice.

Under per the law, any increase in rent is only permitted if this timeframe is adhered to and also only if the Real Estate Regulatory Agency’s rental calculator allows for the increase. As you have missed this window, legally there should be no changes to your existing contract, therefore you cannot raise the rent.

I would, however, advise that you try to organise a face-to-face meeting with your tenants to see if there is any common ground that can be reached to help you during this difficult time. What the law allows is one thing, but what two consenting individuals agree to is another.

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