Dubai tenant shut out, has electricity and water cut off as landlord demands more rent

I was staying in a one-bedroom apartment in Dubai which was in my uncle’s name. The tenancy expired and I wanted to put the contract in my name. The owner changed, so I asked them to change the tenancy name. They said they would increase the rent, which had already been hiked by the previous owner more than the rental index allowed. I agreed to the new amount and gave them the first instalment in cash and the rest in three cheques. They gave me the receipts and said I had to wait for the landlord to sign the contract before they could give it to me. I asked for it several times, and they then said I had to pay more as they had cal­­­culated the wrong amount. Where do I stand here? Plus the landlord is now bothering my family (we have an eight-month old baby) by disconnecting the electricity and water and ordering security not to let me enter my premises. KM, Dubai

The landlord can increase the rent on a renewal only if the Rera rental calculator allows and if this information is communicated to the tenant with at least 90 days’ notice. But, if you have already accepted this, there is nothing more you can do. If the landlord wants more rent than was previously agreed, this is not allowed, especially as he has already been paid. Your options are to file a case at the rental committee quoting unfair rental hike against the permissible amount. On the subject of personal harassment, the landlord is not allowed to disconnect the water or electricity even if he is in dispute with you. Blocking your access to the property is also not allowed.

I want to leave my apartment before the contract is com­pleted and want to know what rights a tenant has. Can I just give notice and, if so, how much notice period do I need to serve? Also what will the penalty be? The building manager has told me that I will have to pay a penalty of Dh9,500 no matter what my circumstances. NC, Dubai


In pretty much all tenancy agreements now, there are clauses within addendums that allow tenants to leave the property before the contract expires for unforeseen circumstances such as job losses etc. With these break clauses come penalties, and in most cases the penalty is between one and two months’ rent. Leaving before a contract expires without any penalties can only be achieved if you are able to negotiate more favourable terms with your landlord. As an example, if you found another suitable tenant to take over your agreement so that there would be no void period for the landlord and he would not be out of pocket. It’s unlikely he would then go on to charge you a penalty. My advice would be to give the landlord as much notice as possible and to try to find another tenant.

I renewed my tenancy contract on February 15 and my landlord sent me an eviction notice from Dubai Court on February 19, four days after the re­newal. I have read that the landlord must send the eviction notice before the renewal. He wants to do some renovations on the flat. Should I vacate next year or stay? SB, Dubai

Law 33 of 2008 states that a landlord may seek eviction from a tenant by giving 12 months’ not­ice sent either via notary public or registered mail upon expiry of the tenancy agreement. Your landlord has not followed the correct procedure. But it is up to a presiding judge of the rental dispute committee to decide, as any judgment is not set on precedent but each case is looked at on an individual basis.

In theory you would be within your rights to request he sends you another notification, only this time sent upon expiry of the agreement for next year. In practice you are both in the hands of the judge. Your landlord is entitled to request your eviction for reasons of renovation or comprehensive maintenance. But he has to provide a report issued by the municipality or accredited by them. I suggest you engage with your landlord and see if a compromise can be agreed upon.

Mario Volpi is a real estate professional who has worked within the industry for the past 31 years in London and Dubai. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and they do not reflect in any way those of the institutions to which he is affiliated. It does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Please send any questions to mariovolpi64@gmail.com.

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