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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

Homefront: 'How do I get my rent refunded if I move out early?'

The reader's landlord will not confirm repayment of the pro-rata rental amount

The Jumeirah Lake Towers resident plans to move out of his studio apartment imminently. Satish Kumar for the National
The Jumeirah Lake Towers resident plans to move out of his studio apartment imminently. Satish Kumar for the National

I asked my landlord if I could move out of my studio in Jumeirah Lake Towers early. My contract has a clause referring to a 60-day notice period for termination, however, I am nearing the end of that period and my landlord does not want to cooperate. She says she will "try to" refund my pro-rata rent "if" she gets a tenant before I move out. She does not understand that she "needs" to refund my rent before I leave. How can I force her to give me a refund before I vacate? What are the next steps? AK, Dubai

Unless there is a clause in the contract specifically dealing with early termination, a landlord does not have to refund any rent should the tenant need to vacate early. I note from your email, however, that there is such a clause and therefore as long as you have adhered to the parameters of this, the landlord cannot withhold your rent. Often there is not only a certain period of notice a tenant has to give to break the contract but also a penalty in the form of one or two months rent payable to the landlord. If both or either of these have been dealt with, the landlord cannot withhold the rent. It does not matter that the landlord may go on to have some void periods as this has already been compensated for by you. If your landlord does not agree and continues to withhold your rent, you will have no alternative but to file a case at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee; this will cost 3.5 per cent of the rental amount but this will be refunded should you go on to win the case.

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I gave my landlord an 84-day notice prior to our tenancy contract expiry. This is six days less than the required 90-day notice. Will I be penalised? AZ, Dubai

A written contract between two parties has to be followed as per its contents and given your agreement states a 90-day notice has to be given for non-renewal, this too has to be adhered to. Having said this, if you are not able to agree over the missing six days, you would be quite within your rights to file a case at the RDSC. As stated, although a contract is in place, if you did file a case, the chances are you would most likely win. This is due to a change in the law.

Law 26 of 2007 is the law that regulates the relationship between landlords and tenants; this law was amended by Law 33 of 2008, which did away with the need for tenants to give the 90-day notice when not renewing the rental contract. If there is a contract in place, the terms of the contract ought to be adhered but when there is a dispute as you have, the law takes precedence.

The best solution would be to now find an amicable agreement between yourself and your landlord but if the landlord insists on some form of compensation for not being given the full 90-day's notice, you can contest this by filing a case.

Mario Volpi is the sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers. He has worked in the property sector for 34 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