Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 May 2019

Homefront: 'Can my landlord penalise me for giving two-months notice to vacate?'

The Dubai tenant has been told to pay two months rent for alerting the landlord late

The tenant's rental contract stipulates he must give three months notice before moving out. Pawan Singh / The National 
The tenant's rental contract stipulates he must give three months notice before moving out. Pawan Singh / The National 

The contract on my rental apartment is expiring on May 30. As per my contract, I was supposed to give the owner three months notice if I did not intend to renew my contract. However, I did not notice this clause and assumed it was two months rather than three, as that was the case in my previous apartment. Now, after giving two months notice, the estate company is asking me to pay a two-month rental penalty for not meeting the three-month requirement. Am I supposed to pay this penalty? This is a huge amount of money for a person like me with limited resources.

Also, I am leaving the UAE before my contract ends, however, I have paid my rent until the end of the contract. Can my landlord take legal action against me if I leave the country without paying the penalty charges? I am worried as I may return to the Emirates in the future for a job opportunity.

The landlord said another option is for me to find a tenant and transfer the tenancy contract. But he is asking me to do it at my existing rental rate. The rents in my area have dropped drastically and no one is prepared to even see my apartment. I have posted adverts on different platforms and contacted real estate agents but I have still failed to find a tenant. CP, Dubai

Your situation is a fairly common one. Remember, any contract is a binding agreement between two or more persons; the fact that you have breached one clause, irrespective of your ignorance or not, means you will potentially be subject to consequences or penalties.

Having said this, the clause in your contract you are referring to is actually contradictory to Law 33 of 2008 which is the law that amended Law 26 of 2007. This amended law did away with the need for a tenant to give any notice of non renewal at the termination of an existing rental contract.

In my opinion, it is always good practice for a tenant to inform the landlord of their intentions, whether they wish to renew or not; this way good relations are maintained. In your case, I do not believe the landlord is being reasonable thinking he is in the right due to your contract's clause. If you have given two months notice, this is more than enough, however, if he will not agree you will have to file a case at the rental committee in order for your voice to be heard.

While I cannot predict exactly what the outcome will be, it is likely that as you gave reasonable notice not to renew, a judge might find in your favour. Unless you can change the landlord's mind, this course of action is the only way to ensure you get a fair hearing.

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 mario.volpi@engelvoelkers.com

Updated: April 18, 2019 08:21 AM

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