Ask the Agent - What should I do when I receive a proper notice terminating my rental agreement?

Ask the Agent - What should I do when I receive a proper notice terminating my rental agreement?Sanket Khanna - CEO and Founder, SNS Properties

- What documents do I need to rent a property in Dubai? Can I still rent even if I don't have a residence visa?

You have not clearly specified your status. Either you are a property owner without a residence visa or a potential tenant without a residence visa.

If you belong to the latter, a valid passport copy and a residence visa are the basic documents required. If you are the former, it is recommended that you obtain a visa first before you can rent out your property. The visa is usually arranged by the developer and valid for two to three years.

As a landlord, you require a tenancy contract that mentions the terms of the agreement between you and your tenant. This will then need to be registered with Ejari. The documents required for registration are the original title deed of the property and the passport copy of the owner. In case of multiple property owners, the passport copies of all the names mentioned in the title deed are needed.

- Who is responsible for paying a property's service charges? What happens if something needs repair?

The property owner is responsible for service charges unless your contract has included service charges or states that you are responsible to bear the same. Any increase in costs should only be in accordance with the Dubai rental laws, and any changes to a contract necessitate a 90-day notice from the landlord before your lease renewal date. In terms of repair and replacements in the property, most tenancy agreements in Dubai normally put minor maintenance as the responsibility of the tenant and any major maintenance as the responsibility of the landlord. Even this is subject to interpretation as to what is minor or major maintenance. In practice, anything that has to do with the equipment including AC, water heaters and water pumps is considered major and falls under the landlord's responsibility. Anything minor such as leaking faucets, blocked drains and broken light bulbs is considered the tenant's responsibility.

- Can a landlord terminate a rental agreement if the tenant fails to pay the rent?

Despite the fact that the landlord legally owns the property he is renting out, he cannot simply terminate or evict a tenant without any reason. In general, a landlord can terminate a lease agreement only if despite several notices, the tenant fails to pay the rent.

When terminating a lease agreement, the landlord must send the tenant a notice of termination. The tenant must pay the rent within the agreed time. If the tenant continues to live in the unit after failing to pay the rent and receiving the termination notice, the landlord may file an eviction notice with RERA.

To begin the eviction process, the landlord must file a complaint with RERA and wait for the tenant's answer. If the landlord wins, based on the merits of the case, the landlord is legally entitled to repossess the property.

- We are renting a villa under the name of my brother-in-law, but he is likely to leave the country. Can we transfer the lease in my husband's or my name?

The person who has his name on the rental agreement as a tenant is entitled to use the property. He has all the rights to stay in the property until the landlord needs the house either to personally use it or to sell it. In this scenario, the landlord has to provide a 12-month notice to vacate the premises. In your case where the tenant is your brother-in-law and as per Dubai rental law, apart from first-degree relatives that include the wife, children, parents and brothers of the tenant if they are under his custody, the landlord has the right to ask you to either vacate the property or renew the agreement under your husband's or your name. The law has provided a very clear directive that the landlord is not obliged to transfer the contract to your husband's name. In case the landlord is willing to do so, he may request an increase in rent. He also has the right to issue a new tenancy contract with new terms.

- Question of the Week: What should I do when I receive a proper notice terminating my rental agreement?

If you have received an eviction notice from your landlord, you must first check if it is a notary-attested one-year notice or not. If so, you either have the option to vacate and look for a new place, or try to find a reason why the owner is insisting that you vacate the premises. As per Law No. 26 of 2007 regulating the relationship between landlords and tenants in the Emirate of Dubai as amended by Law No. 33 of 2008 (the ''Tenancy Law”), the owner can ask you to vacate the premises based on some specific reasons. The common reasons are if the owner wants to sell his property, if he wants to use it personally, or if the property needs renovation, making it unfit for living.

So, you can enquire about the reason why he wants you to vacate. In case he wants to sell it, then you can request for a conversation with the new buyer. Maybe he is an investor and will allow you to stay. Otherwise, you have no option but to leave.

But there is also a possibility that the owner wants to increase the rent that is why he is asking you to vacate. This is now a valid reason for the landlord to terminate the tenancy.

So, be aware of the rules regarding rentals to determine if the landlord has committed violations. You have the right to claim any damages if it is proven that he has done so.

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Source: Sanket Khanna, Special to Freehold

The author is CEO and Founder - SNS Properties

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