Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 16 October 2019

Homefront: 'My Dubai landlord wants to raise my rent. How do I stall him?'

Despite weak prices in the emirate, the overseas owner wants an increase in the rate

The UAE resident says prices have come down in his villa development recently. Pawan Singh / The National
The UAE resident says prices have come down in his villa development recently. Pawan Singh / The National

I live in a three-bedroom villa in Dubai and for many years I have been paying below the market rate. This is mainly because I moved in when rents were much lower and I have a good relationship with the owner. However, prices have come down in my development recently and my rent now sits in the middle of the band for villas the same size as mine. My landlord lives overseas and does not follow market trends. He is demanding an increase on the next rental contract of 7 per cent. Last year I managed to get him to stay at the same rate but he is insistent this time. Should I try to negotiate a lower percentage increase? SK, Dubai

Your dilemma really is a moral problem. By your admission, you have been paying well below the market rate so obviously you have benefitted from the fact your absentee landlord has not kept himself updated with market trends. This of course is not your fault and in fact it is up to the property's owner to find out how the market is faring. Rental prices have been steadily declining for the last few years and if the landlord has not sought to bring the rate in line with the rest of the market, then I assume he has been satisfied with the rent you are paying and, more importantly, in you as his tenant.

Your available options are as follows:

• Dismiss your good fortune over the years and press your landlord to leave the rent as it is by showing him the rental prices have in fact reduced down from last year. This you can do by sending property portal links or market reports by reputable real estate surveyor companies.

• Alternatively, show good will by allowing the 7 per cent increase.

While the key is in the negotiation and being able to demonstrate the facts, my advice, however, would be to agree to an increase of some sort. This way you are showing you care about the business relationship between you and the owner. Landlord and tenant relationships are probably the single most important aspect of the renting process; a great relationship leads to more harmony and better living conditions, but most importantly peace and security for both parties.

Too many times I’ve witnessed the deterioration of the relationship over matters that simply could have been avoided. Being reasonable is the secret, so if for years you have benefitted from lower than expected rent, now would be a great time to give something back not just in money but in the relationship. Going forward, the landlord would value you more as a tenant and you may even get your way in future discussions over potential situations to come.

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: July 10, 2019 01:39 PM

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