Should outgoing Dubai tenant have to pay for repainting costs?

Mario Volpi advises readers on their property issues - including a tenant who does not want to repaint before moving out.

A Dubai resident wonders if it is compulsory to repaint a property. Silvia Razgova / The National
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I handed over my old apartment last weekend and the landlord claims I will have to cover the cost of repainting, which I believe should be considered normal wear and tear, as is mentioned in my contract. It says: "By the end of the Tenancy Contract, the Tenant will be responsible for the reinstatement of any area/parts removed, damaged (other than normal wear and tear), or changed inside of the premises to the landlord's satisfaction." So, am I legally obligated to pay for repainting? The property does require it, however that's due to simple everyday living. There are some dark marks where the television was, some marks where pictures were hung, and marks left by the AC unit. I'd like to politely tell the landlord to take a hike, if I'm legally in the right. HP, Dubai

Your plight is a common one and while most tenancy contracts do state that normal wear and tear is allowed, these words are open to interpretation. As an agent it is correct to say that we would prefer a landlord to hand a property to us to rent in a clean, tidy and where possible in a freshly painted condition too.

With this in mind even through everyday living, having A/C on and circulating around the property, smudge marks and knocks all do occur and these sometimes contribute to give a grubby appearance to our walls. To maximise his rental price, therefore, most landlords will use the deposit to return the property to the state it was given.

There is no law that states a definite response to this, I believe that, although very annoying, you will most likely have to accept the fact that any landlord will want to repaint. It is therefore better to have wear and tear removed from your contracts because the landlords will not accept receiving a property back that requires painting without using your deposit for this purpose.

I am a landlord of a Dubai apartment, and my tenant is due to finish the first year of our agreement next month. One month before the tenancy expired, I asked for an increase in rent of 15 per cent as per the Rera calculator, but the tenant says she needs three months’ prior notice. Is this true? MS, Dubai

Unfortunately, your tenant is correct. For you to make any changes to the tenancy contract, and this obviously can mean the rental amount, you have to give 90 days’ written notice of such changes before the expiry of the contract. If you miss this window, then regrettably no changes to the contract are allowed and the agreement renews under the same terms and conditions as before. This part of the law can be found under Article (14) of Law 33 of 2008.

Is it correct that I do not have to vacate after the 12-month notice period has ended if the owner has not yet sold the apartment? I called the Rent Committee and they say we need to vacate after the 12-month notice ends. SFK, Dubai

I have checked with a lawyer and the response is that if a property remains unsold during the 12-month notification to quit period, the tenant can stay on until the buyer is found. I am not sure why the rental committee would say that you do have to vacate as the reason for your eviction in the first place has not actually happened, ie selling the property. If this was to be the case, then landlords all around the country would try to evict their tenants by saying they want to sell but actually do nothing about it so when the tenant leaves they just rent out again to someone else at market rates. This is not what the law intends.

Mario Volpi is the managing director of Prestige Real Estate in Dubai (prestigedubai.com). He has 30 years of property industry experience in the emirate and London. Send any questions to mario@prestigedubai.com

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Readers are encouraged to seek appropriate independent legal advice

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