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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Homefront: 'My landlord's property has been seized by the bank. Where do I stand?'

The tenant has been asked to move out in two months time as the bank wants to sell the apartment

Mr Crompton would like to see landlords paying real estate agents instead of tenants. Antonie Robertson/The National
Mr Crompton would like to see landlords paying real estate agents instead of tenants. Antonie Robertson/The National

I have been contacted by my real estate agent and told to move out. My landlord has not been paying his mortgage and a bank has seized the property. I have been given a couple of months' notice as the financial institution plans to sell the property. I have lived in the apartment for two years and have found contact with my landlord increasingly difficult in recent months. I was planning to renew this month and now have to find somewhere new to live. However, can I be evicted with only two months' notice? I just want to understand where I stand from a legal standpoint. KM, Dubai

The law has many provisions to protect stakeholders in situations arising out of the property market, one such provision is Ejari. It is mandatory in Dubai to register the tenancy contract, this is specifically aimed at safeguarding the interests of the tenant as per article 4 (2) of Law 33 of 2008. All tenancy contracts and any amendments to such contracts related to real property are subject to the provisions of this law assuming they are registered. Therefore assuming you have registered your tenancy with Ejari, it will therefore be recognised by the courts or any competent authority. This being the case, it will help you in fighting for your rights as a tenant.

As per article 28 of law 26 of 2007, when a property is tenanted and then subsequently sold or given/transferred to another party, the rights of the tenants to continue to occupy the property remain intact until the end of the tenancy agreement. In your case, as the contract expires in July, the bank has every right to request eviction at the end of the agreement. Given the fact that the bank would request to sell the property, it is not unreasonable for you to seek an agreement to stay on at until such time as it is actually sold. Perhaps you can agree on being flexible when it comes to viewings or indeed help in this regard as a quid pro quo. Either way, I would also suggest you do look out for another suitable property too and given the fact that it remains a tenant's market, I’m sure you will find something equally as good, if not better very soon.

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I've been made redundant and plan to leave Abu Dhabi this summer. My employer has taken some of the housing allowance out of my gratuity pay as I did not reach a full year of employment with them. This leaves me short as I still have five months to go on the rental contract. How do I negotiate with the landlord to get some of this money back? BC, Abu Dhabi

When signing a tenancy contract it is important to also include a clause that will permit early exit from the contract in cases of job loss or any other unforeseen circumstance. The norm is for two months rent penalty to go to the landlord in such events.

If no such clause exist, it is important to note that a landlord does not have to agree to you breaking the agreement.

So what are you options? Firstly, I would organise a face-to-face meeting to discuss the situation; this is preferable as you are more likely to get an agreement rather than just speaking over the telephone or via email.

At the meeting, show evidence of your situation by means of correspondence from your HR department and discuss your plans. Remember the landlord may not be interested in your plight as such but this just shows proof that it is not of your choice or doing.

The other option to discuss would be him releasing you from the contract if you were able to find another tenant to take over. This can be done either by yourself or via a real estate agent but as time is running out perhaps you can just agree on compensation to the landlord of one to two months' rent.

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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