Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 March 2018

Homefront: Tenant's many cats causing a problem for landlord

In this case, the tenant is being unreasonable ... it seems fair to call into question the need to have 10 or more

How many cats is too many for a tenant? It's a tricky question. Chris McGrath/Getty
How many cats is too many for a tenant? It's a tricky question. Chris McGrath/Getty

I rent a two-bedroom property in Dubai. I have rented it out for three years without problem but my latest tenant is proving problematic. I knew before the tenant moved in that they had a pet, and I understood that to be a cat. However, in the three months the tenant has been there, neighbours have told me the property is home to many more – perhaps up to 10. I have contacted the tenant and requested either the extra animals be removed or the property be vacated. However, the tenant has said I cannot evict and as I knew there was a pet involved but did not specify how many, and therefore I can’t ask for the numbers to be reduced either. It is becoming a big issue as neighbours are complaining about the smell and noise the animals are producing. What can I do?

CB, Dubai

This is a clear case of both parties having rights. On the one hand, your tenant is right when he/she says you were aware of them having pets and given that there is no mention of exact numbers in the contract, this issue is difficult to quantify. Having said this, I believe you ARE allowed to question the numbers, especially as we are potentially talking about double-digit figures and the fact that complaints from neighbours have started. I guess it all comes down to what the average person deems to be a reasonable number of pets? Tenants understand that the property they rent is their home but they, too, have to accept that the property belongs to the landlord and therefore are responsible for it.

I believe that in this case, the tenant is being unreasonable and whilst it is not up to me to say exactly how many pets are too many, I would call into question the need to have 10 or more? If you cannot come to an agreement on the numbers, your only other option would be to file a case at the rental dispute settlement committee to seek eviction. Ultimately the judge will then decide what the outcome will be.

The property I rent in Al Ain came with a covered parking area within the boundary walls. Recently, high winds brought some of the structure down on my car, smashing the windscreen, damaging the bonnet and paintwork etc. I told the landlord it was his responsibility to pay for repairs to the car and to rebuild the cover but he says the car is not his responsibility and I shouldn’t have parked it there while it was windy. That seems ridiculous to me – so who is in the right and what can be done?

DA, Al Ain


Read more:

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

Homefront: Dubai agent refuses to refund Dh6,000 booking fee despite tenant cancelling within 24 hours


In instances like this, I would say that it is not so much who is in the right but more about whether either of you has any insurance that covers damage as a result of an act of god?

The landlord has a responsibility for maintaining the property and for repairs to any damage to it, however you too have responsibilities to keep things in good order. This damage is nobody's fault as such so if neither of you have insurance to cover the cost, you both must try to come to some sort of an agreement. The property needs repairing and so the landlord ought to rectify this and obviously so does your property (the car). If the landlord rebuilds the covered parking area, it is only fair you foot the other expense of repairing the car. Taking any other stance other than this example will probably result in getting nowhere. It is important to find common ground between yourselves in what is an extremely unfortunate incident.

For clarification when it comes to insurance, the landlord is responsible for insuring the building but not necessarily its contents and in this instance that would mean the car. Hopefully you will find an agreement. If not you can also seek further advice from the Abu Dhabi Municipality.

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