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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 March 2019

Homefront: 'How do I secure a rent reduction from my landlord?'

The Abu Dhabi resident requested a lower rate in November but is yet to hear back from the managing agent

The tenant is due to renew the lease on his Abu Dhabi apartment in February. Victor Besa / The National
The tenant is due to renew the lease on his Abu Dhabi apartment in February. Victor Besa / The National

I’m due to renew my lease for my Abu Dhabi apartment at the end of February. In November I proactively requested an alignment/reduction of the rent. I referred to recent data on rental rates and pointed out that a three-bedroom apartment in my development should be within the range of Dh145,000 to Dh195,000, rather than the higher rate we are paying. I also pointed out that given the oversupply of new villas and apartments in Abu Dhabi, for the current rental amount there are newer and bigger units available. I asked for our rate to be reduced to Dh190,000. On top of the current market condition, I also reminded the managing agent that the condition of the apartment since our move-in has not improved. It took the landlord almost six months to replace the old oven, which was not working properly. Wardrobes were not repaired and the cooler had to be fixed at our cost. It has been several weeks since I sent my request via email and I have not received any response. We see ourselves staying in the apartment for long-term and would like some flexibility on the rent. How should we proceed from here? FS, Abu Dhabi

Unfortunately your plight is not uncommon. Lack of timely communication is one of the most frustrating aspects of landlord/tenant relationships. When renting from a large managing agent company, you rarely get to actually speak to the landlord himself and this lack of direct communication leads to unnecessary stress and ultimately drastic actions such as moving out.

I note from your email that you have sent your communication backing your point with relevant data. This is always very important as it highlights what is going on with the Abu Dhabi rental market and with more inventory coming to market, the short-term view is that rental prices will continue to soften. Your offer to stay at a discounted rent of Dh190,000 does not therefore seem unreasonable to me.

Unfortunately managing agents sometimes do not grasp the consequence of the current market, believing it is better to play hard ball with tenants. The reality is that if they do not agree with your request, your only other option would be to move out. You have time to give them the required 60 days notice that you will not renew should you decide to go down this route.

My advice, however, would be to seek a face-to-face discussion in a last ditch effort to get an agreement by organising a meeting at their office.

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I have a huge back garden in an old villa complex. I want to put down astroturf for my children to play football on.

This would require covering some of the paving slabs at the end of the garden. Do I have to ask the landlord's

permission to do this or can I just go ahead? NC, Dubai

With reference to any alterations on a rental property, the tenant has to seek permission from the landlord. This is mainly down to the fact that when the tenancy is over, the tenant has to return the property in exactly the same condition as when it was given at the start of the agreement. The other reason the landlord needs to be kept informed is because the changes or alterations might need approvals from the municipality or the developer. Looking specifically at your request, I would inform the landlord of your intentions but I'm sure he won't have any issues with you proceeding.

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

Updated: January 2, 2019 12:13 PM

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