Calculating the housing fee

Calculating the housing feeToby Young

- Why has my Dewa bill gone up from Dh350 per month to Dh850? I see there is a housing fee, why was I not told about this?

The housing fee has been slowly introduced over the last five years. Many people will be unaware of it, if they are new, or missed the news back in 2009. It is calculated as 5 per cent of the total rent paid, and is split over the twelve months of the tenancy contract. If you are the owner, it is now being calculated as 5 per cent of the average Rera Rent Index for that area, split over twelve months.

- I can't find my area on the Rera Rent Index, how do I know what the average is?

Dubai is growing so fast that the Dubai Land Department and Rera cannot keep track of every new area in Dubai. The Rera Rent Index is now updated annually; so any missing areas are likely to be updated at the end of 2016. In the meantime, it is advised that you find the nearest area to you and use that as a guideline.

- I have renewed my tenancy contract directly with my landlord. Now my real estate agent is demanding Dh500 as per the tenancy contract despite not doing anything. Please advise.

In general, if someone does some work for you, then they should be paid. If, as you say, you've done it all yourself directly with the landlord, they cannot claim money for it. You may need to explain this to the agent.

- My landlord has given me a hand delivered six month eviction notice. Is this legal?

No, you need to be given a full twelve months notice. Also, it must come via the Notary Public or registered mail, and must contain one of the four reasons as outlined by Rera. If not, then the notification will be deemed invalid.

- I have nine weeks left on my tenancy contract. My landlord has just contacted me to say he is increasing the rent over and above the Rera rent calculator, what can I do?

First, you have not been given 90 days notice, so any attempted increase in rent forcibly would be considered invalid.

Furthermore, even if you had been given 90 days notice, the notification is invalid as it is above the Rera Rent Index. Unless you agree to it, you cannot be forced to pay a rent increase above the Rera Rent Index.

- My landlord says I have to leave at the end of my tenancy contract because it carries the clause that the contract is non-renewable in the terms and conditions.

The term 'Non-renewable' exists in old versions of tenancy contracts. Every tenant has the right, providing they have not been served with a 12 month eviction notice using the correct method, to renew their tenancy contract. If a landlord insists, then you will have a very good case at Rera.

If an eviction notice has been served correctly, you have 12 months from the date of issue before you are required to vacate by law.

- I have five months left on my tenancy contract. My landlord has just emailed me to say that the rent for the following year will be as per the Rera rent calculator, but with no stated amount. Is this allowed?

Yes, this will be deemed satisfactory. You have had the required 90 days notice, and your landlord is following the Rera Rent Index guidelines. As the Rera Rent Index is now issued annually, you will be able to check the extent of any possible increase in rent now.

- My landlord served me with an eviction notice via the notary public. He now wants to give me a new contract and re-negotiate the rent. I don't believe it is in line with the Rera rent calculator. What can I do?

A new contract will supersede and invalidate the eviction notice, but any change in rent must be agreed by you, and should be in line with the Rera Rent Index and as per your current contract too. If your landlord does not agree to this, then you will be able to deposit your contract and rental cheques at Rera, and your landlord will then have to sign the contract to collect the rent. However, the landlord can bring a case against you through Rera, if they choose to, but there seems little point in it.

- My tenant has done significant damage to my apartment and not fixed it. Can I keep their deposit to cover the costs of repair?

You can keep the amount that covers the cost of the repair. Anything else would be unfair. There is likely to be a clause in the contract that states the apartment should be returned to the landlord either in its original state, allowing for fair wear and tear. Or that it should be repainted as per the conditions upon handover. Either way if the contract is signed, you, just as your tenants should, abide by it. This means, if the damage is more than fair wear and tear, then you have the right to deduct that amount, or if the contract states the apartment should be repainted upon its return then you could keep the cost of that as well. Anything else could see you on the receiving end of a case brought by the tenant against you through Rera.

- I have been in my property for almost a year. My landlord has sent through a notification of a rent increase. I have been told that the landlord cannot increase the rent for three years, but he says he can. Who is right?

That rule applies to Sharjah only. Each emirate has its own rules on rent increases, when and how they can be delivered and ultimately applicable. In Dubai, your rent can increase every year as long as the rent increase conforms to the annually published Rera Rent Index, and as long as you have been given 90 days notification. If the method, amount, or time left on your tenancy contract differs to the rules set out by Rera, then the rent increase would be invalid.

As you have not mentioned any of the other caveats, we have to assume that you have been given 90 days notice and the method of delivery was as per the laws established by Rera.

- I have been in my property for the last 13 years. My property has just been bought by a new landlord, who wants to increase the rent at the end of the contract. I had agreed verbally with my old landlord that the rent would only increase by 5 per cent per year at the most, but my new landlord wants to increase it by 10 per cent. Are they allowed to do this because we set the 5 per cent limit in line with the law?

The 5 per cent rent increase limit dates back to some very old laws (2007) that have now been changed. We can only assume you have had a very good relationship with your old landlord. The new landlord is partially correct. Any rent increase is governed by the Rera Rent Index, and as long as you have been given 90 days notice, and the rent increase is not above the amount set out by the index rated against your current rent, then your rent can be increased as requested by your new landlord.

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Source: Toby Young, Special to Property WeeklyPW

The author has been the Managing Director of since its foundation in 2014. The website provides advices to tenants and landlords, tailored to individual tenancy contracts

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