Leasing laws and regulations in Dubai

Leasing laws and regulations in DubaiImage Credit: Supplied

Since 2010 all tenancy agreements in Dubai have been required to be registered with Ejari. This should typically be done by the landlord. However, some are still not registering their properties.

Our advice to tenants would be to ensure your property is registered even if you have to do it yourself, which you can. The cost is about Dh160 for typing plus a Dh35 administration fee. You'll need your original tenancy contract, a Dubai Electricity and Water Authority bill, a copy of the title deed or site plan and copies of your passport and visa. Ejari ensures rental agreements are fair and transparent to the parties involved and that their terms and conditions are given full weight should disputes arise.

The law is very clear on eviction and does not allow a tenant to be removed simply because a landlord wants to lease the property out for a higher rental income. Landlords have grounds for notice to their tenants if they or a next of kin wants to move in, if they want to sell the property or if the property needs extensive renovation or requires demolition. In the case of next of kin, a landlord must prove there is no other option available. In the case of a landlord wishing to move into the property, they cannot release the property for two years and tenants are fully within their rights to take a case in front of the rental committee if this happens.

If your landlord does have grounds to move in, you must be given a 12-month notice, which can only be served at the expiry of your current contract and particularly applies if the landlord or his family plan to move into or sell the property. The eviction notice must be notarized and sent via registered post. Failure to do so means you are entitled to stay in the property until the appropriate eviction notice is sent and the notice period served.

A landlord can increase the rent each year, but only if two points are satisfied. The first is that any changes to the contract can only be effected as long as a 90-day notice before the expiration of the agreement is given by either party. If this notice window is missed, no changes can be made to the agreement and this obviously includes the rent. If the 90-day notice has been respected, the second point is to see what the permissible rental increase is by checking the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) rental calculator. After this, notifying a tenant of the increase via email is allowed.

Rera's guidelines to limit rent increases do not apply to property governed by the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). Therefore, landlords are free to raise rents in accordance with market demand. If a landlord is being completely unreasonable, the DIFC courts do oversee rental disputes in the Small Claims Tribunal and the main court.

You can negotiate and in all cases I would recommend you try keeping the peace first. Not all landlords are sharks and indeed not all tenants are going to trash a property or bounce cheques. So before heading to file a case at Dubai's Rental Dispute Settlement Centre (RDSC), try talking with the other party as it may be a case of misinformation. The cost of filing a case is 3.5 per cent of the annual rent, or a minimum of Dh350 and a maximum of Dh20,000. Other fees may be levied by the RDSC on the plaintiff for summoning experts, payment of experts' fee, fees for deposit of rent with RDSC, etc. Most disputes are judged within 75 days.

Here's a guide on understanding your tenancy contract

Source: Property Weekly

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