Subletting in Dubai not allowed without landlord’s consent

Subletting is not allowed without the consent of the landlord but an owners association managing a tower in Dubai Marina will not benefit from the building's units being sublet, warns Mario Volpi.

The person who sublets in Dubai is not covered by the law. Pawan Singh / The National
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I am on the board of an owners’ association and we are trying to stop illegal subletting and illegal room sharing in our residential tower in Dubai Marina. Our questions are:

1. Is subletting legal or illegal in Dubai?

2. Is subletting legal with the owner’s permission?

3 If the main tenant is issued with an Ejari document by law then should each sub-tenant be issued with a tenancy contract or agreement by the owner showing the duration of the contract?

4. What legal documents should accompany a sub-tenant’s lease? For example, should they have copies of the tenants’ passport and residency visa, an authorisation letter/agreement form signed by the owner or power of attorney, a minimum lease period of six months?

Can you throw some light on this subject from the viewpoint of an association trying to stop the residence and facilities been overrun by illegal and unruly tenants? OB, Dubai

The first thing to say is that subletting is not allowed without the consent of the landlord. The Ejari is issued to the tenant, but if this tenant goes on to sublet with or without the consent of the landlord, the person who sublets is not covered by the law as the Ejari is not in his/her name, therefore he/she is not protected.

Whether I believe the sub-lease should be issued with his own Ejari is actually irrelevant at this point, as this is not available. If a sub-lease is arranged (with landlord consent), then the documents mentioned need to be filed and the terms and conditions also set out. But the legality and responsibility still lies with the original tenant, and ultimately this person is responsible to comply with the original lease conditions.

As the owners’ association of the building, I see no reason or benefit for any of your units to be sublet (whether allowed by yourselves or owners) as there will be no control of who the “new” residents will be and also no control of the way these individuals choose to live or be made to abide by the rules of the building. Therefore I think you should impose strict fines for anyone caught doing the same.

If my landlord serves me an eviction notice through public notary or registered mail, but prior to my current tenancy contract being expired, does the 12 months start from the date I receive the notice or from the first date following the expiry of my current tenancy contract? AR, Dubai

The consensus on the interpretation of this part of the law has always been, from qualified lawyers, that the 12 months’ notice could be given at any time. I now know from the conclusion of a recent Rental Committee hearing that these lawyers’ interpretations were not correct, so we have to go by the letter of the law.

As per article 25 of law 33 of 2008, your landlord can demand eviction upon expiry of your tenancy agreement limited to the following cases:

a) If the owner wishes to demolish the property.

b) If the property requires extreme modernisation which cannot be executed while the tenant is occupying the property

c) If the owner wishes to use the property for himself or immediate next of kin provided he proves he does not own a suitable alternative property for that purpose.

d) If the owner wishes to sell

For all the above clauses the landlord must notify the tenant with reasons for eviction at least 12 months before the determined date of eviction subject that such notice is sent through notary public or by registered mail. To answer your question, the 12 months starts from the first date following the expiry of your tenancy agreement.

Mario Volpi is the managing director of Ocean View Real Estate and has worked in the industry in the emirate and in London for the past 30 years. Send any questions to

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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