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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Homefront: 'I'm moving out after losing my job. Will my landlord return my cheques?'

The Abu Dhabi resident does not want his third rent cheque to be cashed

The Abu Dhabi tenant plans to give the landlord two month's notice. Photo: Reuters
The Abu Dhabi tenant plans to give the landlord two month's notice. Photo: Reuters

I am a tenant in Abu Dhabi main island and the building is owned by a private owner. I have a lease agreement expiring at the end of May next year. I have a three-cheque payment term, with two cheques already paid and the last one due on January 28. However, I have just recently lost my job and plan to vacate my flat before the last cheque becomes due. The question is: can I give the landlord two-month's notice and break the lease? Will the landlord, then, be obliged to return my cheque and security deposit? Please give me some guidance on how to manage this situation. I am sure many tenants face similar situations. MY, Abu Dhabi

First, read your contract carefully to see if there is a break clause. If there is, then obviously you have to adhere to the terms and conditions within this clause. If, however, there is no provision to break the contract early, the only option you have is to arrange a meeting with the landlord directly (if possible) or if not, his representatives at the very least. At this meeting you will have the opportunity of explaining your situation.

It is important to note that if there is no provision in your contract to leave early, your landlord does not have any legal requirement to allow you to break the lease. That said, in most cases, any reasonable landlord would understand that these things happen and should allow for an amicable exit. You should be prepared to offer some sort of compensation to the landlord to allow this break in the contract. The norm is one to two month's rent. Remember, the landlord will be out of pocket should he not find another suitable tenant so this monetary compensation will help in this regard.

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It there is a pest problem like rodents and ants after the tenants have moved into a property, who is responsible to cover the cost of pest control? DB, Dubai

The landlord has a duty of care to his tenants and prior to any occupation has to ensure that the property is in a fit state of habitation. If a problem occurs after the tenants have moved in, then the problem would fall under the maintenance clause of the tenancy agreement. The responsibility will depend on who is liable for minor or major maintenance costs. It is normal practice that any single incident of maintenance under Dh500 will fall on the tenant and above this amount will be the responsibility of the landlord. Of course, this is not necessarily set in stone as any outcome will be about negotiating among the parties.

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