Homefront: 'Can my former landlord charge Dh16,750 for damage I did not cause?'
The tenant's Dh10,000 deposit will not be refunded and they have been billed an additional Dh6,750
After moving out, my building manager sent an email saying none of my Dh10,000 deposit would be refunded and that I owe another Dh6,750 on top. My annual rent was Dh160,000. Upon checking the details of the request for payment, the breakdown of the charges was:
• Extra 15 days stay: Dh6,750
• Doors: Dh4,000
• Crack a kitchen floor marble tile: Dh2,000
• A broken lock: Dh1,000
• Painting: Dh1,750
•Stove hotplate: Dh1,250
Total: Dh16, 750
Now, let me give you the background on each charge:
The extra stay
We moved in 15 days late and the building manager told us he will run into trouble with the landlord if he changed the Ejari, so instead, he said he will let us stay for an extra 15 days at no extra cost. Being naive, we didn't get a written confirmation of this, so, I believe he has every right to charge us.
The bathroom doors and painting
There was a water pressure issue in the building, which stopping the elevators for working for two to three days, as the shafts were full of water. The building failed to keep the situation under control and water pipes exploded in several apartments. Many of our belongings were damaged beyond repair, including my laptop. Obviously the water, which was 5-10 centimetres deep, has also damaged walls and doors. I emailed the manager showing photo proof and his reply was he's trying to find out whether his insurance company will pay for my belongings.
Our hotplate cracked for no reason while we were using it (nothing fell on it or anything). The building manager was alerted at the time. He replaced the hotplate without mentioning any cost involved. I still have the message proof.
The key got stuck in the lock and his maintenance had to dissemble it. Now he is asking a ridiculously exaggerated amount of Dh1,000 for the lock, but - at the time - they told us it would cost Dh200 to repair.
Marble tile crack
It's a small crack that we failed to report when we moved in. I presume his aim is just to get money out of us, so although he knows it was there, he's putting it on us.
Besides all of the above, the building manager caused many issues, such as barring our friends from coming over, although the contract didn't mention anything of a sort. He would also watch CCTV to see who is coming in, often questioning me on their nationality. How do I resolve this? UL, Dubai
It appears to me from all of your statements that the only way to get any resolution to this is to file a case at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee.
A lot of what you describe cannot be solely down to your responsibility despite the landlord insisting that you pay for all of the repairs.
I agree the landlord is entitled to get his/her property back in the same condition it was given at the start of an agreement, however landlords and tenants should also have insurance to cater for any eventualities such as burst pipes etc.
In any normal rental contract, major maintenance is normally the responsibility of the landlord and minor issues are on the tenant. This can be easily determined in the rental agreement with any one item costing less than Dh500 the responsibility of the tenant and above Dh500 falling on the landlord.
Maintenance repairs during a tenancy are one thing but damage is clearly another, so if you have evidence of items already broken before you moved in, you can use these to contest the extra charges.
Having verbal agreements in writing is imperative as you can now clearly see by the landlord wishing to charge you for over staying.
Mario Volpi is the sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers. He has worked in the property sector for 35 years in London and Dubai
The opinions expressed do not constitute legal advice and are provided for information only. Please send any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated: March 27, 2019 04:46 PM