Jumeirah Village Circle tenant proving almost impossible to evict

We have an apartment in Jumeirah Village Circle that has been leased for the past four years.

Unfortunately, the first time we served the eviction notice in June 2014, as we wanted to sell the apartment, the tenant received it but acknowledged the same only verbally. Then in June 2015 – when we expected the tenant to evacuate the apartment – he filed a case against us for not renewing the contract and not informing him, claiming not to have received the notice.

We lost a six-month court case where our ineffective lawyers were not able to prove to the court that we had served the not­ice through the notary public.

In December 2015, after we lost the case, we served the tenant with another eviction notice but due to the difference in the tenancy contract tenure (June to May), we would have had problems in effectively evicting the tenant.

So in January this year, we approached the lawyer of the tenant and were working towards an amicable settlement, whereby the tenant renewed the contract for the next two years at a fixed rent and then leaves the apartment. We had planned to rework the tenancy contract to start from March 2016 up to March 2018.

Afterwards, though, we have not received any written communication from either the tenant or his lawyer and we want to know how best to proceed.

I have three questions:

1. How do I inform the tenant about the rent increase as per the Rera calculator, giving the 90-day notice that is legally admissible in court?

2. If I increase the rent this year (2016-17), would I legally be able to increase the rent next year?

3. How do I inform the tenant that I do not wish to renew the tenancy contract either this year or next year? ND, Dubai

Informing your tenant at least 90 days before the expiration of your tenancy agreement to effect any changes to the renewal contract has to be done in writing. In this case, given a June 1 renewal you would have to have done this by the start of March.

The law doesn’t specify exactly how this communication is lawfully delivered other than in writing so it seems that email, a handwritten note or a letter would suffice.

On the other hand, the delivery of the 12 months’ notice has to be served either via notary public or registered mail.

If you send an increase of rent notification via notary public, it will mean you at least have a proper record of it being sent.

Do also remember that any increase is only allowed as long as the Rera rental calculator allows it.

With regards to the potential rental increase the following year (2017-18), this would again be allowed only if the Rera calculator permits this and if you have informed the tenant of this change in the contract, giving the statutory 90 days’ notice in writing.

There are four main reasons you can give to legally evict a tenant. These, along with the others, can all be found within Law 33 of 2008, but the two most common are wishing to sell or requiring the property back for own use or use of immediate next of kin.

If you wish to evict your tenant, you must give a valid reason. My interpretation of the law is that you give 90 days’ notice that you do not wish to extend the tenancy contract beyond the next 12 months agreement. The one year’s notice to evict is served upon expiry of the current agreement, which effectively makes the renewal the last one. If you use the excuse of selling but do not actually sell during the 12- month notice period, the law is silent as to whether the tenant has to actually vacate on the not­ice’s expiry. This is because the property has not actually sold and was the reason for the eviction in the first place.

What does the law in Dubai state in regards to raising rent upon lease renewal for the second year and onwards? EM, Dubai

The law now allows a landlord to raise the rent of the lease renewal on the second year as long as two points are met. Firstly, the landlord must inform the tenant in writing at least 90 days’ before the expiry of the agreement that the rent will be increased on the renewal. The second point refers to the Rera rental calculator. Any increase in rent is allowed only if the calculator permits this. After visiting the dubailand.gov.ae website, and all the necessary information is inputted such as the number of bedrooms, the area, current rent, expiry date, location etc, the calculator will then determine what the rental figure should be. If the calculator states no increase, then the landlord is not allowed to raise the rent.

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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