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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 May 2018

Homefront: Landlord's concern over recovery of the rent evicted tenant owes

Rental cheque and the cheque issued for the security deposit both bounced

As the tenant, you have the right of enjoyment to the property you lease and the landlord has the responsibility of maintaining it. Sarah Dea/The National
As the tenant, you have the right of enjoyment to the property you lease and the landlord has the responsibility of maintaining it. Sarah Dea/The National

I have a one-bedroom apartment in Dubai Marina, which I rented out to a lady in July of 2017. My problems started immediately after. Her rental cheque and the cheque issued for the security deposit both bounced and after a few reminders to her to replace them, I sent her an eviction notice and then subsequently filed a case with the RDC rental disputes centre. She was finally evicted from the apartment last week and RDC has now closed the case. My concern is with the recovery of the rent she owes me. Who do I have to follow up with to find out if I will ever see the rent owed to me?

What about the outstanding DEWA bills? There is no deposit with which I can cover the utility bills. In this case will I be liable to pay even if the court order clearly mentioned that the DEWA bill has to be settled by the tenant? BR

Unfortunately the award of lost rent or compensation is not automatic by law. The filing party should request what they are owed as part of the judgement award in the complaint. You will therefore have to follow up with the rental dispute centre.

In case you were wondering about other avenues, regrettably you will not be able to file a new case for compensation at the Dubai Courts as they do not handle tenancy cases.

In the meantime, I suggest you sort out what is owed to DEWA etc, so that this can also be added to the compensation.

We rented a villa last August 1. On August 21 I received notification from DEWA notifying me of large water consumption for the previous three months, indicating a possible leak. To cut a long story short, we tried to contact the landlord through his intermediary but without success. The water consumption for our first 21 days was 75,000 gallons! We have a pool and garden but are only three people in the property. We did everything to try to remedy the situation, including reducing irrigation / pool etc, and DEWA were extremely helpful. However, no word from the landlord until I sent him a letter from RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Agency), which caught his attention. Now we are close to coming to the end of our six months tenancy and only this week are we finally getting his workmen to try to locate the leak, and we don't yet know how much this might mean upheaval for us in terms of digging up the entire front of the property as the leak is most certainly underground. He has now agreed to pay for all repairs and also to something toward the excessive water bills ... both yet to be realised however.

We have had no use of the pool and no benefit from the garden at all (contrary to Clause 8 in the Tenancy Contract). I have had all the trouble of bringing people in, of DEWA monitoring our meter, my having to take meter photographs night and morning to check consumption and I've had sub meters installed on the pool / irrigation etc, all at my cost / hassle to me (unfortunately I also was hospitalised in September which somewhat took priority over the leak!).

My view is this: as we have not had full benefit of the property for the past six months and considering all the upheaval during that time, can we insist that the full year's rental be reduced to that of an identical villa without a pool?

We have paid of Dh325,000 per annum in two cheques ie Dh162,500 for the first half year. My view is that the next cheque (held by him) be returned and we reissue for Dh87,500, bringing the rental to Dh250,000, which is the rental here for an identical villa without pool.

I'm aware that RERA would likely be agreeable to compensation, but I don't want the further expense/unpleasantness of actually filing a case with them against him.

AM, Dubai

As the tenant, you have the right of enjoyment to the property you lease and the landlord has the responsibility of maintaining it to a set standard including any major repairs and all maintenance issues, of which this is one, and in return for this you pay the rent.

I believe that you are well within your rights to request this reduction, given you have not been able to use the facilities which you have already paid for. The key to all of this is face-to-face negotiations directly with the landlord, these kind of communications cannot be done over email or telephone calls as the gravity of the whole scenario would warrant this, so insist on getting together to discuss the matter further.

It would appear that the landlord is now facing reality by already agreeing to pay for repairs and the contribution towards the water bill. I’m sure you will be able to come to some agreement on the second rent cheque.

I understand when you say you do not wish to file a case against the landlord and often tenants are indeed quick to go down this route. Mediation is always better than litigation but bear in mind that this avenue is always open to you should you hit a block in your negotiations. Remember to stay calm and just state the facts. What you have paid for is not what you have received, irrespective of the fact that this leak is not the direct fault of the landlord etc but it is his responsibility.

Obviously if everything is sorted in the future and you do get the opportunity to use the pool again, I’m sure you will inform the landlord that you would be happy to reinstate the rent to what it was for the next renewal

Mario Volpi is the sales manager at Engel & Volkers. He has worked in the property sector for 34 years in London and Dubai. The opinions expressed do not constitute legal advice and are provided for information only. Please send any questions to mario.volpi@engelvoelkers.com