x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Abu Dhabi tenant ‘unreasonable’ in not expecting rent rise

Abu Dhabi landlord needs help handling a tenant reluctant to accept the terms of a new rental contract.

Rental prices are soaring in some areas of Abu Dhabi.  Lee Hoagland/The National
Rental prices are soaring in some areas of Abu Dhabi. Lee Hoagland/The National

I have a flat in Abu Dhabi rented to a tenant for the past two years and I have been renewing the contract based on the 5 per cent rental cap. The tenant and I used to communicate by email and agree on the rental and later I would send him the signed contract. This time I have communicated with him by email 75 days before the expiry of the contract and asked him if he would like to renew the contract or not. He indicated that he is willing to renew. I then sent him the new terms and conditions of the contract two months before the expiry date of the contract by mail. The tenant replied saying the renewal was based on the old terms and conditions and considers the old terms should apply. My question: what are my rights and where should I proceed from here? SS, Abu Dhabi

As an Abu Dhabi landlord you must give two months’ notice to your tenant to alter the contract at renewal. It would appear from your communication that you have fulfilled this part already. Late last year, the 5 per cent cap on rent increases was scrapped and because of this, you are now allowed to ask whatever rent you choose. Your tenant is not being reasonable if he believes that you should renew at last year’s rent, especially as rents have increased substantially. You need to negotiate in a clever way though, as asking too high a rent could mean the tenant will just move out. But an increase is definitely on the cards, by how much is up to you.

I entered into a tenancy contract for a one-bedroom apartment for Dh35,000 on December 20 2012. On December 10 2013, my landlord called me asking to increase to Dh40,000 for 2013-14, which I refused based on the law. He decided to give me one year’s notice and has included the following line on my contract: “The tenant has acknowledged and accepted the herewith contract as non-renewable. The herewith serves as one-year notice to vacate on expiry”.I signed the contract without seeing the added line and the landlord wants me to go on December 20 this year. I’m completely lost and would like clarification based on the law to have an idea if I have to prepare myself to move or if I’m on safe side and can plan to stay. AN, Dubai

I assume you checked the Rera rent calculator and put in all the correct information at the time to see what the allowed rental increase, if any, would be as you say you refused to the increase the landlord wanted as per the law. Your landlord cannot just give you 12 months’ notice to vacate without the proper reason for eviction. The two main reasons used are that the landlord wishes to sell the property or move into the property himself or his immediate next of kin. You do not mention if he has given you a reason, which he has to do. The notice also has to be delivered in a specific manner, either through notary public or via registered mail. If you have not received this in any of the two ways then the notice has not been delivered in a manner that is recognised by law.

The tenancy contract does not serve as a 12 months’ notice period as this is not one of the prescribed ways the law requires the notice to be delivered. Furthermore, a non-renewable tenancy agreement is also not recognised by law, so even if you have signed this, I would suggest that it is not valid. I would recommend that you give your landlord notice that you would like to renew your contract. The time to do this would be 90 days before the expiration of the agreement. The landlord will probably not agree, so at that point I would open a case at the rent committee.

Mario Volpi is the managing director of Prestige Real Estate in Dubai (prestigedubai.com). He has 30 years of property industry experience in the emirate and London. Send any questions to mario@prestigedubai.com

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Readers are encouraged to seek appropriate independent legal advice

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