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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Homefront: 'My landlord charges too much for our Springs villa. Should we move?'

The owner says modifications to the Dubai property justify the higher rent 

The tenants are considering a move to the nearby Meadows community, as they feel they can get more for less. Pawan Singh / The National
The tenants are considering a move to the nearby Meadows community, as they feel they can get more for less. Pawan Singh / The National

We pay Dh207,000 for a three-bedroom Springs villa, yet there are larger villas in the Meadows going for Dh180,000. Our landlord refuses to reduce the rent, arguing that the modifications he has done to the house is why he can charge a higher rent. A new kitchen was installed in 2015 - the year before we moved in - and the villa has wooden floors throughout and a landscaped garden. Does this justify charging more than villas in a more superior community nearby? PS, Dubai

The residential rental market is experiencing what is known in the sector as a tenants' market. As prices soften, existing tenants look for better deals (at renewal time) than they had before or new tenants seek out bargains or perhaps choose to move to better locations, bigger units or more luxurious properties for less money than previously. This is all too common when prices are soft and when there is much property choice. Unfortunately, landlords do not have much of a say at this time and are often left feeling disappointed that they have had to negotiate down either on the actual rent or on the number of cheques, for example.

In your case I can see why your landlord chooses to keep the rent at a higher amount than a normal Springs villa, especially given the modifications etc. These improvements, however, are now three years old so it could be argued that more flexibility on his part ought to be shown.

Ultimately, your decision to renew or not at a price that is not realistic even with the modifications is what is at stake here. As stated by yourself, there are other properties in neighbouring locations to the Springs offering perhaps better terms. You will have to weigh up whether it is economically viable to either continue paying the current rent or move. If the moving costs involved and the related hassle, time required to find and actually move, comes to a considerable reduction, it would seem irresponsible to remain unless you can arrive at an agreeable conclusion on rent with your landlord. Moving to a new place may be your only sensible choice.

Organise a face-to-face meeting with your landlord to explain that you would love to remain but the reality is not possible, unless he can reduce the rent. Perhaps politely explain that if you do end up having to move out, it could be that a new tenant will look to negotiate the price anyway, so perhaps it is better to agree something with you rather than go through what could be months of marketing the villa and negotiating with the new tenant anyway.

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I found an eviction notice pasted on the door of my apartment. The notice was in Arabic, which I don't speak, but a neighbour explained what the document was. She said the notice tells me I have to move out in 12 months. But I only moved in a month ago. Is this fair to kick me out so soon? FU, Dubai

A landlord is perfectly entitled to request eviction of his or her tenant for the following reasons:

1. For reason of selling.

2. For reason of acquiring the property for own use or use of next of kin of first-degree.

3. In the case the property requires demolition.

4. In case the property requires extensive alterations or modifications that would prevent the tenant from still residing during such alterations.

For these last two points, documented approvals need to be provided from competent authorities. In all of these four cases, the landlord has to inform you in writing, giving you 12 months' notice to vacate This notification should be given upon expiry of the tenancy agreement, so if you were to file a case at the rental committee explaining that you have only just moved in, I’m quite sure the judge would find in your favour and allow you to stay on for at least a further 12 months beyond the first year.

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

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