x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Dubai property buyer finds five tenants and structural changes in apartment

Keren Bobker helps a reader who was unaware the tenants were living there and finds out that only one has a contract.

A Dubai property purchaser has found tenants living in the apartment he has just bought in Business Bay. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
A Dubai property purchaser has found tenants living in the apartment he has just bought in Business Bay. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

I have recently purchased property in Business Bay. After making the upfront payment I went to view the property to check everything was OK. On viewing I found that the apartment had been subleased to five tenants and structural changes had also been made. When I informed the seller of this he told me that he was not aware and would take some action. After a week he informed me that he was aware of all the tenants and that all of them worked for one company, even though the contract is in the name of one individual. I feel the seller just wants to transfer the property and does not want to be concerned with any legal matters. However we would like to take suitable action as we are planning to stay in that property. The current contract expires on May 30. SM, Dubai

There are just a handful of reasons that an owner of a property can legally evict a tenant with limited notice, with planning to live in the property being a valid reason. This only applies if the proper 12 months’ notice is given at the next contract renewal date in the prescribed format and delivered by registered post or public notary. In addition Article 24 of Dubai tenancy law states that the “Landlord may demand eviction of tenant before expiry of tenancy period in the following cases …

(a) If tenant subleases the property, or part thereof, without landlord’s written approval and in such case eviction shall be applicable to the tenant and the subtenant, and the subtenants right to refer to tenant for compensation shall be reserved.

(b) If tenant causes changes that endanger safety of the property in a way that it cannot be restored to its original condition or if he causes damage to the property intentionally or due to his gross negligence to take proper precautions or if he allows others to cause such damage.”

Assuming the landlord was not aware of the subletting, eviction can take place. An apartment in Business Bay will have been designed for single occupancy so five unrelated people living in one place is likely to be in breach of regulations even if there is a tenancy agreement with a company. The current landlord appears to be within his rights to demand eviction and a new owner should be in the same position.

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

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