x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Homefront: Eviction laws different in Abu Dhabi to Dubai

Mario Volpi clears up the rental law for a confused Abu Dhabi buyer.

The laws in Dubai are quite clear vis a vis evicting a tenant and the 12 months’ notice required. I’m finishing the purchase of an apartment in Abu Dhabi that I would like to live in, however, it currently has a tenant living there. Is the law in Abu Dhabi different to Dubai and, if so, what is the law in terms of the length of notice required to evict a tenant? AG, Abu Dhabi

The laws on rent in Abu Dhabi are quite different from those of Dubai. Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE, issued a decree on amending some of the provisions of law No 20 of 2006, which regulates the landlord and tenant relationship in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

 Under article 20 it states that the lease contract shall be valid to the end of the lease period specified. It shall be renewed or extended for similar periods, unless one of the parties notifies the other in writing of its desire to vacate the leased property or to modify the term of the contract before the expiration of the lease period and in accordance with the following:

• For residential properties, notification shall be two months before the end of the contract (for non-residential, the notice period is three months).

• The landlord may not request eviction from the property until four years have passed.

• The tenant has the right to renew the lease agreement with the landlord for rental periods less than four years, but the rent is now subject to market conditions as the landlord has the right to charge “market rent” due to the removal of the 5 per cent annual rental cap last November.

So the answer as to whether you can evict the tenant or not will depend on whether the tenant has been in the property for four years or not. If the tenant has lived there for more than four years, then, yes, you can evict by giving a two-month notice period before the end of the contract. If not, then you cannot evict the tenant until four years have passed.

We were served notice at the end of last October so the owner could sell. The lease expires on July 1. The sale is supposedly going through. What happens between the start of July and the end of August? What is common practice? OC, Dubai

Firstly if the property has been sold you will need to find out who your new landlord is. Why they bought the property in the first place will determine exactly when you have to vacate. If they bought it as an investment then you could negotiate to stay beyond October 2014. If they bought the property to live in, then you will have to vacate by the October deadline as this is when your 12 months’ notice will expire.

At least 90 days before the expiration of your tenancy on July 1, you should inform your landlord your intentions and should do the same. If he continues to request your eviction then you should draw up a three-month rental contract to take into consideration the period from July 1 to October. You will unfortunately have to vacate at the end of this term to find alternative accommodation.

I have been given 12 months to vacate my apartment as the owner is selling the apartment. I live in a tower of 400 flats owned and managed by a local company. What are my rights? Do I have to leave? What I don’t understand is why they can’t sell while we are still leasing. GA, Dubai

Your landlord, whether he is an individual owning just one property or a company that owns 400 apartments, has the right to sell any one of their properties. The procedure they must follow is to inform you of their decision by giving you either a notarised 12 months’ notice to vacate or a document that states the same sent via registered mail.

They can then start marketing the property for sale. When a buyer is found (depending on whether the new buyer wants to move in or not) you can then try to negotiate with them. However the 12 months’ notice is legal and as long as the old landlord has sold the property to an owner-occupier, you unfortunately will have to move out.

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