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Your Rights as a Tenant in the UAE

With a significant diaspora of professionals, students, and businessmen in the middle east, the only constant in Dubai’s real estate rental market is change. New properties are listed every day, fresh agreements are made and newly forged relationships come into effect. So, who governs this fluid market and regulates the relationship between a landlord and his tenant? 

Enter the RERA, the Real Estate Regulatory Agency. A government body regulates all transactions pertaining to real estate in the UAE, including the ones that occur between a landlord and his tenant. For clarity and in the spirit of due diligence, property lawyers in Dubai can be approached by either party. 

All contracts between the landlord and tenant must be registered with RERA through their EJARI service. Standard contracts can be downloaded from their website and under ‘Additional Terms’ the landlord and/or tenant may include clauses as they see fit. 

As a tenant, this is what you need to know: 

Inspecting Premises Beforehand

Always inspect the property to ascertain if it is in a state fit for inhabitation before signing any contract. Since rights and responsibilities are inexplicably intertwined, the tenant must also ensure that, at the end of his contract, the property is returned to the landlord in the same condition as he received it, with the exception of reasonable wear and tear. 

Paying some Maintenance 

Here is where the ‘Additional Terms’ come in handy. Standard text in the Ejari contract does not cover maintenance issues. It is important to have a detailed discussion with either the landlord or real estate agent with regards to who is responsible for what during the tenancy period. Property lawyers in Dubai usually assist in crafting comprehensive contracts that benefit both parties. If you have already signed a contract without specifying details regarding maintenance, the rule of thumb dictates that maintenance under AED 500 should be undertaken by the tenant while anything over that amount is the responsibility of the landlord. 

Landlord responsible for Government Charges

Taxes, Dubai Land Department, or Real Estate Regulatory Agency fees and charges are the responsibility of the landlord.

Binding Contract despite Sale of Property

The landlord may sell his property during the contract period. In this case, the tenancy contract remains valid until the end of the contract period. 

Rent Increases are Legal

Rent increases are governed by well defined laws. The percentage of increase depends on the current rent of the property. If the rent is about 10% less than the rent of similar units in Dubai, the landlord cannot demand an increase in rent. If the current rent is between 11 and 20% less than those of similar units in the Emirate, the landlord can increase rent up to 5%. 

If math isn’t your strong suit or you just don’t have the inclination to study the property market, a handy calculator is available on the Dubai Land Department’s website. By entering a few simple details like the address and current rent, the tool calculates the maximum allowable rent increase the landlord is entitled to. 

It is your right as a tenant to be informed of any increase in rent at least 3 months or 90 days before the end of the contract period.  

Needing to leave during the Contract Period

Although hard to predict having to leave your rental during the contract period, it is always advisable to include the possibility within the contract with detailed and mutually agreed upon terms and conditions. Property lawyers in Dubai can assist in framing such contracts.  By law, one party (tenant or landlord) cannot terminate the contract during the contractual period. It must be mutually agreed upon unless specified otherwise in the contract. In case it is not, the landlord can demand payment of a penalty for early termination of the contract.

The Forgetful Landlord

If your lease expires, but the landlord or real estate agent does not contact you or you are unable to contact them, and you continue to reside in the property, the contract will be automatically renewed for a period of one year with the same terms and conditions. 

Security Deposit

The landlord must return the security deposit in full or with deductions (based on the condition of the property) to the tenant when the latter vacates the property.

The Possibility of Eviction

Eviction occurs when the landlord demands that a tenant vacate his property before the end of the contract period. Unless you run afoul of the laws, the landlord cannot evict you from the property. Running afoul of the laws of the land takes many forms. Subleasing the property, or engaging in unlawful activities inside the premises constitutes cause for eviction. 

The landlord must issue a notice to the tenant 30 days before a possible eviction if the tenant has not paid rent for the past month, has caused significant damage to the property or has breached terms of the contract.

Also, if the property is scheduled to be demolished by the government for any reason, the landlord has the right to evict the tenant. 

Property Disputes for Tenancy Contracts in Dubai

Leaving the Property

Although the landlord is fully within his rights if he chooses not to renew the tenancy contract for reasons such as the requirement of the property for his personal use, scheduled renovation of the property, or intention to sell the property, he must inform the tenant in writing a year in advance. 

Also, unless otherwise specified under ‘Additional Terms’, the tenant is not required to provide the landlord with any notice of vacating when his contract comes to an end. 

Contact your local property lawyer in Dubai today for an in-depth review of your tenancy contract!

 

Hassan Humaid Al Suwaidi., LL.B. is a Senior Partner in HHS Lawyers. He has 20 years of experience dealing with high-value and complex cases. Frequently featured in local and international legal directories and commended for his ability to attain favorable outcomes for clients, Hassan has been involved in some of the largest legal settlements. A major part of his work is providing expert legal advice on UAE legislation and acting for individuals and businesses during disputes and litigation. Read more