Homefront: 'How do I get the best deal if I'm breaking my apartment lease early?'

The Abu Dhabi resident has lost his job and will be leaving the UAE in six weeks

Property expert Mario Volpi says the outcome of this case depends on whether there is a break clause in the contract. Mona Al Marzooqi/ The National
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I lost my job and plan to leave Abu Dhabi in the next six weeks. The contract on my apartment runs until July 19. Do I have to pay the full amount before I go or do you think the landlord will be lenient? How can I walk away with the best deal in this situation? WM, Abu Dhabi 

If there is no break clause in your contract, unfortunately you will be liable to fulfill your agreement to its term. If you have decided to leave the UAE altogether, your only redress is to meet with the landlord and explain your situation. Some landlords will allow tenants to break the contract but only after paying a form of compensation, for example, two months' rent as a penalty. Alternatively, they may ask you to find another suitable tenant to take over the agreement. This way, the landlord has continuity of tenure and will not be out of pocket. It is important to know that either way the onus would be on you to find a suitable solution for all.


Read more from Mario Volpi: 

Homefront: Can I use a power of attorney to sell my Abu Dhabi apartment?

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My landlord is refusing to refund our deposit. We looked after the apartment, managed all the maintenance ourselves and paid the full year upfront. The house is in perfect condition, so initially the landlord promised to refund us within a month. But now he is blocking our calls and we cannot get hold of him. We are owed Dh5,400. What action should we take to get the money returned? HN, Dubai 

Under normal circumstances, I would always suggest a period of reconciliation by organising a face-to-face meeting with the landlord to agree on the timing of the return of the deposit. In your case, if the landlord is now ignoring your calls, I suggest you go straight away to file a case at the Rental Dispute Settlement Centre. The cost of opening up a file at the RDSC is 3.5 per cent of the annual rent, so you have to weigh up the economical aspect of doing so against the value of the deposit. That’s not to say you should just forget about the money because this sends out the wrong message, but time and effort does cost so bear all this in mind when deciding to go forward


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My bath was damaged by some maintenance men working on a broken water heater. They dropped a tool and left a huge hole in the bath but despite attempting to repair it a few times, the damage is still there. I am moving out of my villa soon and do not want to be stung on the rental deposit. Should I tell the landlady and get her to resolve the issue with maintenance company, as it is the company she uses for all repairs? BL, Dubai 

This is an unfortunate incident and I would definitely involve the landlord at the earliest opportunity. You clearly were not responsible for the damage, however you ought to (at the very least) offer assistance where possible. I suggest contacting the landlady and explaining what occurred. Then find out if she has any form of insurance that could cover such a situation.

If she doesn’t, then the maintenance company must have company liability insurance as I’m sure this type of accident has occurred before so should be able to organise replacement of the bath if the repair was not sufficient.

I would hope that the landlord would be sympathetic, given the damage was caused by her preferred maintenance company.

Mario Volpi is the sales and leasing manager at Engel & VolkersHe has worked in the property sector for 34 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