Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 7 December 2019

Homefront: 'I've bought a Dubai property. What notice period do I give the tenant?'

The UAE resident wants to move into the home himself as soon as possible

The Dubai buyer hopes handover of the apartment will happen before the end of this month. Reem Mohammed/The National
The Dubai buyer hopes handover of the apartment will happen before the end of this month. Reem Mohammed/The National

I am purchasing a tenanted property with the expected handover by the end of this month. I plan to move into the home myself and understand a 12-month eviction notice must be given to the current tenant. The lease was renewed by the tenant on October 20 and will expire on October 19 next year. My questions are:

Does it matter (or is it better) if the current landlord issues the eviction notice before the property is handed over to me or should I issue the notice?

Assuming that the eviction notice is issued on December 1 and the tenant receives it on December 5, when does this 12-month period end? Is it in October 19 next year when the lease expires or either of the December dates mentioned above? I have found conflicting information that the 12-month period starts from the expiration date of the current lease, which would be October 19.

Also, can the tenant refuse to accept the delivery of the notice? If this happens, where do I stand? There is a strong likelihood the tenant may try every trick to delay leaving the property.

After I purchase the property, how do I update the information on the Ejari? And is it a good idea (or mandatory) to update the Ejari with the new landlord's information? Also, do I need to sign a new tenancy contract with my information listed as landlord and keep the same lease expiry date of October 19?

Finally, is it better to send the notice through notary public or can I simply prepare it myself and courier the letter to the tenant? Any suggestions to ensure a smooth transition towards me getting physical possession of the property will be helpful. MT, Dubai

When a landlord wants to sell a rented property, he/she must inform the tenant by sending a 12-month written notification either via notary public or registered mail. Given that the current landlord has not issued a formal notice, I recommend you go ahead and serve the notice yourself (for reason of own use). Once you become the owner, remember you must also show that you do not own another suitable property that could be used instead.

The 12-month period starts at the point of issuance. There is some confusion as to exactly when a notice ought to be served; according to Law no 33 of 2008, it should be served upon the expiration of the current tenancy. However, some judges at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee (RDSC) allow the notice to be served at any time. Serving the notice at any time is, however, not allowed for the first year of a tenancy. In this instance, the 12-month notice can only be served upon the expiration of the first year. In your case, I recommend you issue your 12-month notice when you become the landlord after buying the unit. Your tenant will then have to move out a year later.

When a notice is sent via registered mail, the courts often use a courier to deliver the document. If the tenant does not answer the door at the point of delivery or is not in the property at all, the courier company will paste the notice on to the front door and photograph it as evidence. The fact the notice is pasted on to the door is deemed delivered in the eyes of the courts. Despite the fact the contract terms and conditions must remain the same, it is always good practice to have the paperwork up-to-date.

With reference to the Ejari, again it is better to cancel the old one and re issue with your correct details, however, this can wait until renewal if need be.

As stated when sending the 12-month notification, this needs to be sent either via notary public or registered mail. You can choose to prepare the notice yourself but remember to send it via registered mail.

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: November 27, 2019 05:18 PM

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