I am a tenant in Dubai and would like your view on the following situation. Before the first year of my tenancy contract expired on August 20, I was in constant touch with my landlord's property manager for the renewal of the contract since the landlord was out of the country. The agent told me that I shouldn't be worried because soon the landlord would come back to Dubai and then we would sign the new contract. Then on August 28, I got an email from the landlord saying that I should vacate the property as he wants to sell it and that my contract had expired on August 20. I was shocked and replied that you should give me 12 months' notice and for now please proceed with the renewal of the contract but he is not agreeing. Can you please tell me what I should do and what is my legal position if I go to the Dubai Rent Committee (DRC)? I am worried that I will have a problem as my contract has already expired. MIK, Dubai
As MIK had contacted the landlord's agent and advised that he wanted to renew and this was acknowledged it is the landlord's responsibility to provide the correct paperwork upon renewal. The contract will be deemed renewed. If any landlord wants a tenant to vacate they are legally obliged to give them 12 months' notice in writing, specifying the reason. This notice must be delivered through the notary public or registered mail. If a landlord fails to do this, but is demanding eviction, then the tenant should take their complaint to the DRC. The fee to register a dispute is 3.5 per cent of the annual rent, with a minimum of Dh350 and a maximum of Dh20,000. The person bringing the case may also have to pay other costs. It is common for a tenant to claim the fees and costs back as part of their case but, even if successful, there is no guarantee they will be awarded them by the DRC. In cases where the law is clear cut the landlord is very unlikely to win and the law has been designed to protect tenants.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org