x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dubai landlord’s bid to charge for air conditioning seems a low blow

My Dubai landlord is trying to charge me chiller fees even though it is already included in the rent.

What is legal when it comes to passing on service fees to the tenant and adding air conditioning where it was previously included in the rental cost? I live in an Emaar building where AC is included in the service fees and on September 14 my landlord informed me she would like to increase my rent by over 8 per cent from Dh120,000 to Dh130,000. I promptly informed her that as per Rera regulations she is not entitled to a rental increase. She then informed me the service fees have increased significantly and that she needs to raise the rent. I informed her that the service fees were not my issue but that I may be willing to compromise if she could provide documentation showing a substantial increase.

I’ve contacted the Rera and Dubai Municipality’s Rent Committee and neither seem clear on the legality of doing this. I have come across numerous posts online from people with similar issues and this is increasingly a method landlords apply to get around rental regulations. Another post online claims it is illegal for landlords to pass on service charges but I haven’t been able to confirm this is true. It will cost me Dh4,200 to open a complaint with Dubai Municipality and I would like to know what the ruling is. My landlord then informed me she and her husband were thinking about moving back to Dubai and, if the rent doesn’t cover their costs to live somewhere else, they would need to live at the apartment that I currently rent. EL, Dubai

It appears your landlord is trying every which way to prise some extra money out of you, one way or another. So let me discuss your case bit by bit.

Firstly, it is absolutely not the tenant’s responsibility to pay for service charges as these are inextricably linked to the owner of the property. The fact that Emaar includes the AC within its service charges is irrelevant as no doubt your rent is reflected to take this fact into account. In my experience Emaar apartments are rented for slightly higher rental amounts due to this fact, so in effect you are already paying for it.

You go on to say that the landlord wanted to increase your rent by over 8 per cent. I am glad you know your rights regarding this and by visiting dubailand.gov.ae you can clearly see via the Rera rent calculator whether an increase is permitted or not.

Increases in service fees are unfortunately a fact of life, but are not in any way linked to increases in rent. There is a clear mechanism for this as stated above, and it should not form part of any rental increase.

If your landlord wishes to move back into the property, she has every right to do so but will need to give you the proper 12 months’ notice and deliver such notice via a notarised document sent through registered post. She will also need to prove to you that she does not own another suitable alternative property. You are correct in saying that if she does take possession of her property for her own use, she cannot then commercially re-let it for a period of two years from your eviction. If you subsequently find out that she has re-let the property within this time period, you will be entitled to compensation from the landlord via the rent committee.

 

Mario Volpi is the managing director of Prestige Real Estate in Dubai. He has 29 years’ of property industry experience in the emirate and London. Send any questions to mario@prestigedubai.com