Basic property rights

Ask the agentSanket Khanna

I recently moved to JLT. The draft tenancy contract states “Non-renewable.” The agent said I have to vacate the apartment at the end of the contract and will be renewed only if the owner agrees. Is it legal?

Even if you sign a tenancy contract with a “Non-renewable” clause in it, no one can evict you from the property. Some landlords believe mentioning this clause is considered as a 12-month written notice and the contract will terminate automatically. Unfortunately, they are not aware that tenancy contracts in Dubai renew rather than terminate automatically. Until/unless a vacating notice is sent either via notary public or registered post, it will not be considered a legal document in the eyes of RERA.

As per the law, if the owner wants the tenant to vacate the premises, he has to notify him 12 months prior to the eviction date. While issuing the vacating notice, the owner will have to confirm the reason for eviction as well. So, you do not need to worry as until the owner provides you with a legal notice, he cannot ask you to vacate.

As far as increasing the rent is concerned at the time of renewal, he will have to follow the rental calculator. In your case, the owner can neither ask you to vacate the premises if he fails to give you a 12-month notice nor increase the rent if the rental index does not allow.

I have a tenant who refuses to pay the revised rent as per RERA. What steps should I take to secure my interest?

If the RERA rental calculator shows an increase, then as a property owner, you are allowed to increase the rent at the time of renewal with a prior 90-day written notice as stated in the law. If you have fulfilled all the requirements and the tenant is not ready for settlement, the legal option is to file a complaint at the Rental Dispute Settlement Centre (RDSC) also known as the Dubai Rental Committee. RDSC is authorised to deal with all kinds of rental disputes and settle the issues legally in a professional manner. To file a complaint, submit the original and new (even if unsigned) tenancy contracts translated in Arabic, title deed, passport copies of landlord and tenant and all email/written communication translated in Arabic. There is a service fee of 3.5% of the rental amount to be paid at the time of filing. For more information, visit the RDSC website.

There is leakage from the apartment in the upper floor, which damaged our wall. Building maintenance said it is the landlord’s responsibility, but the landlord asked us to fix it. Is this right?

The damage caused by the leakage from the upper floor is not your fault and you need not pay for it. The building maintenance should check with the resident of the said apartment and fix the issue first so that it does not cause more damage. Once it is fixed, they must inform your landlord who must do all the required maintenance. It is usually mentioned in the tenancy agreement that minor maintenance is the responsibility of the tenant and major maintenance is taken care of by the landlord. So, anything related to leakage, water heaters, air conditioners and water/drainage pipes falls under major maintenance which has to be fixed by the owner. Try to contact your agent and request him to explain the situation to the owner.

I have been staying in Al Barari for two years. The agent told me the landlord sold his villa. Will I be asked to vacate the premises? What are my rights?

As far as your stress of vacating the property is concerned, I suggest that you do not worry. The law does not allow any property owner to evict the tenant overnight whatsoever the reason is. The owner must give a 12-month written notice sent through either a notary public or registered mail. I am sure the landlord has not served you any notice until now. In that case, he will have no option but ask his agent to prepare a revised tenancy contract between you and the new owner (buyer). Once you receive the new tenancy contract and if the new owner does not wish to use the property, then your problem is solved. But if he wants you to vacate, then he will have to notify you 12 months in advance, giving you the reason for eviction. A property owner can only ask the tenant to vacate the property if he wants to use it himself, sell it or renovate it. Unless you get a notice, I suggest you relax and enjoy your stay.

My tenancy contract is due for renewal next month. The real estate agency contacted me, offering their services. Should I do it myself or avail myself of their services?

Signing the tenancy contract at the time of renewal with or without the real estate agency is completely your decision, but if you ask my opinion, I suggest you go via real estate. The agency’s involvement is not limited to signing of the contract but collecting the cheque and handing it over to the owner, and getting the contract signed by him and delivered back to you as well. The agency will also assist you in case of maintenance issues or guide you in case of disputes. For example, if there is anything which needs to be fixed and the owner is not answering your calls, the agency will try to reach the owner. Real estate firms know the latest laws and market trends so they can assist you with any required information. But if you do not want to pay any fees and want to take care of all small and big issues, then you can proceed on your own.

Source: Sanket Khanna, CEO and Founder, SNS Properties

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