x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Landlords giving UAE tenants ‘a few days’ notice to remove pets or move’

Do tenants with pets have any rights if the landlord or building managment suddenly demand that animals should be evicted? Property expert Mario Volpi advises.

Some pet owners have been asked by landlords and building management to remove their pets from the property. Rich-Joseph Facun / The National
Some pet owners have been asked by landlords and building management to remove their pets from the property. Rich-Joseph Facun / The National

We run a website called Adopt-Me.ae and at the moment we are being inundated with pet owners who are suddenly re-homing their pets – or worse, abandoning them – because of their building management committees or landlords now saying that pets are no longer allowed. We were wondering if the tenant’s contract states that pets are allowed, but then the landlord or management committee decide/vote to change this, whether the tenant has any rights at all. For example, we’ve had a few families who were only given a few days’ notice before they were told to either move or get rid of their beloved pet. Can a landlord actually tell a tenant to leave because they own a pet if it states in his rental contract that pets are allowed? Any advice to help protect pet owners against this would be greatly appreciated. Peta Wittig, Adopt-ME.ae Founder

The law states that any changes to a tenancy contract have to be communicated by both parties (landlords/tenants), giving at least 90 days’ notice before the expiration of the tenancy agreement. Before accepting any potential tenant with pets, I would suggest that the landlord is responsible enough to check with the building management (if an apartment) if pets are indeed allowed. I too have heard that some building owners have given only a matter of days to request eviction of the pet with no consideration to the family at all. I am sure you are perfectly aware of the difficulties pet owners have living in the UAE, but it does not have to be like this.

My advice would be that if families wish to rent with pets they get in writing from the landlord and or building managers that they do not have any objection. If changes do occur, the tenant should then look to the landlord for some sort of compensation. I realise this may be difficult to execute, as changes to rules are not necessarily the fault of landlords and are often beyond their control.

I am a landlord and the tenant has stayed in my apartment for two years with a proper contract from February 2012 to February 2014. During the last rental period of the last contract, November 2013 to February 2014, they did not pay the full rental amount and still owe me Dh8,000. They have not sent a renewal contract and even with no contract in place, they have paid for the period from February to May at the same rate as before. I have politely and repeatedly asked for the back payment of Dh8,000 but have received nothing. I have also repeatedly asked for a renewed contract, but nothing. This has been going on now for three months. Now I am wondering what to do. JM, Dubai

A tenancy contract would be deemed renewed if the tenant remains in the property beyond the expiration of the previous contract. There are certain situations, however, that will allow you to cancel an agreement and demand eviction of your tenant. One of those reasons is non-payment of rent. Please send a final demand to the tenant requesting full payment of what is owed, giving him 30 days to comply. I realise that you have already waited several months for payment, but you cannot officially demand immediate eviction until this notice is served. After the 30-day period has elapsed and still no payment has been received, you can then go to the rent committee at the Dubai Land Department and they will give authorisation to evict your tenant.

I read with interest your column regarding eviction from a property when in fact the landlord (or his family) does not move in as indicated. Do you know roughly how much compensation is normally provided through the legal process, or the basis on which it is calculated? I’m just wondering whether it is worth the time and effort to do as you recommend. RD, Dubai

The law states that if a landlord evicts a tenant for the reason he or his immediate next of kin wish to move in, then actually do not and just relet the property instead, the outgoing tenant is entitled to compensation. A case against the landlord will have to be opened at the rent committee which will cost 3.5 per cent of the rental amount. Compensation can come in the form of removal costs, an amount against the aggravation of the situation and/or the costs of filing the case. The level of compensation is always subject to the actual case and the judge in question.

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

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Readers are encouraged to seek appropriate independent legal advice

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