x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Landlord taking liberties, so a tenant needs to be aware

On your side: Keren Bobker says that Dubai a landlord cannot increase rent in the first two years and after that there are strict provisions that apply regarding permitted increases.

My Dubai tenancy contract is due for renewal for the second year this month. Until yesterday my landlord had not made any contact with me, but I spoke to his agent and he told me the landlord wants to increase the rent. In reply, I said that according to the law, the rent can only be increased after the completion of two years. Then the agent told me the landlord wants to sell his apartment, so will add a clause allowing potential buyers to view the apartment from inside. I would like to know whether he can insist on increasing the rent at the time of signing a first renewal and if I have to agree to accept the new clause of viewing in the new contract? Finally, if he sells the apartment in the next few months what will happen to my tenancy contract? MIK, Dubai


You are correct in saying that a landlord cannot increase the rent in the first two years and it is worth noting that after that there are strict provisions that apply regarding permitted increases after this time. Rera, the Real Estate Regulatory Agency, collects data across the city and has an online calculator that shows the acceptable levels and landlords must comply with this. If rent is to be increased in accordance with the permitted limits, tenants must be given 90 days'notice. It is not standard to include a clause to allow strangers to visit someone's home and you are not obliged to accept this. Tenants are not obliged to show buyers around a property and if you are asked to do so and wish to assist, you should be given 24 hours' notice. Even a landlord does not have the right to enter a property without permission or a very good reason to do so. I do not recommend you accept any such agreement and if your landlord, or his agent, persists, you should contact Rera. If a property is sold, then the rental agreement and therefore the tenant, comes with it. If the landlord wants you to leave, then he needs to give you 12 months' notice by registered mail or notary public with reasons as to why he is evicting you, as per UAE Law number 33 of 2008, Article 25, Clause 2. If anyone needs to contact Rera for advice or assistance, the helpline number is 800 4488.

I went to register my car on June 16 but was unable to as a case had been submitted against me in the Dubai Courts and I need to clear this before I can register. I was shocked as I had repaid my loan - taken out in 2008 through Al Tayer Motors with financing from Emirates NBD - over two and a half years ago and did not understand why this case was filed. When I first took out the loan, I wrote out 36 cheques to cover all the repayments and to my knowledge all the cheques cleared with the loan finishing in April 2011. When I contacted the bank the day after hearing of the problem, I was told one of the cheques did not clear and that I had been charged Dh200 per month in non-payment fees. To date there is a charge of Dh3,800, in addition to the sum of Dh1,550 for alleged non-payment. In all this time I have not received a single telephone call from the bank and have had the same mobile number for the past seven years. Is it even allowed to levy bank charges against someone without their knowledge and then file a case in the Dubai Courts without ever contacting the person? I have lived here for over 15 years and have been very careful not to get myself into debt as I am aware of the consequences of doing so, but how can you deal with something you are unaware of? I am now concerned there is a ban on me leaving the country for a vacation as well as the fact I cannot register my car with the Roads & Transport Authority until this is resolved. KY, Dubai


This case took more than a month to resolve. Emirates NBD initially stated there was a bounced cheque and fees owing and said its collection team had been contacting KY on her mobile number since 2008, but the number used was not the customer's number and never has been. The bank then stated it had tried to contact KY again but that the number was out of service. Once the correct number was provided the bank spoke to KY. "We are pleased to inform you that our group customer experience team has been in contact with KY and has settled the matter to her satisfaction. As a gesture of goodwill, Emirates NBD has agreed to waive 50 per cent of the accumulated charges on KY's auto loan account; the charges occurred after one of her cheques was returned due to insufficient funds in 2008," the bank said. KY is happy with the outcome and has settled her account. The bank is finalising the account closure and will provide her with a formal release letter once this process is completed.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com