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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Homefront: 'My landlord wants his villa repainted four months after I moved out'

The Dubai tenant's landlord has also refused to repay the security deposit 

The cost to repaint the villa - inside and out - is more than three times the cost of the security deposit. Photo: Better Homes
The cost to repaint the villa - inside and out - is more than three times the cost of the security deposit. Photo: Better Homes

We rented a villa in Dubai for eight years and the contract ended on May 2018. We handed over the property to the landlord's representative in a neat / clean condition. The representative took the keys from us, checked the villa and signed the handing over document. After we received clearance from Dewa and du, we asked the landlord for the refund of our security deposit. Last month, we were told by the landlord's office that the villa needed to be repainted inside and outside. They sent us the cost, which is more than three times the value of our security deposit. Please note that the villa was only painted once (interior only) by the landlord when we moved in. The villa is now up for sale, which is the reason why the landlord did not want to renew our contract. So, who is responsible for this painting of the whole villa now that we have moved out - us or the landlord? Surely this falls under wear and tear? JD, Dubai

It is common practice to return a property in the exact same condition it was given to you at the start of your tenancy agreement, therefore if it was painted and cleaned when you moved in, this is how you should return it. Equally, if the property was not handed over newly painted nor cleaned, then a tenant does not have to give it back with these works done. You are right that in some contracts it does state fair wear and tear is allowed but this statement is open to different opinions. What you might believe is fair wear and tear can mean something totally different to a landlord and for this reason this clause cannot be relied upon. It is your responsibility, therefore, to repaint the property inside only and in the same colour it was before, irrespective that you have now moved out.

I am however a bit suspicious of the landlord demanding over and above the estimates including external painting and would question why he has waited over four months before informing you that this is the reason for not returning your deposit. I suggest you organise a face-to-face meeting with the landlord and explain you will carry out what is expected of you but that he must return the deposit immediately once you have done this. Otherwise you will have no alternative but to go and file a case at the Rent Dispute Settlement Committee in Deira.

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I am staying in my apartment for another year and have signed my contract with a reputable real estate agency registered with the Dubai Land Department. It also has a power of attorney to operate on my landlord's behalf. While registering the tenancy contract for Ejari, I was informed that the landlord also needs to sign the contract. However, my broker managed to get me an Ejari Certificate with all the correct dates etc with contract signed by the real estate agency. My Dewa bill is still registered in my name. I paid the cheque (one payment) to the real estate agency, exactly as I did last year. Now we come to the problem. Another real estate agent recently approached me, claiming that the owner is not represented by that other agent anymore and that the owner is not being paid the rent. The person has an original signed title deeds document as proof. We are now a bit distressed as we do not know what is going on. We have all the documents - the Ejari, contract, Dewa bill, title deeds copy, passports, proof of payment etc. How should we proceed from here. We don't want to be kicked out and then not see our money again. SB, Dubai

It appears you are caught up in the middle of a situation that is not of your doing but don't panic. Firstly, do you have actual access to the landlord? If so, get in touch to explain your side of this story; if not, seek a meeting with the agency you have paid to garner their assurance that whatever is going on is not going to affect your tenancy, as this issue is clearly between the landlord and the agency. For now, it would appear that you have a valid Ejari, therefore you are protected. For any verification, you need to see up-to-date evidence of who is now representing the landlord. If necessary, you may have to collect the cheque, should it be proved that the landlord has indeed switched power of attorney. Communication is the key, so for peace of mind you, will need to get involved.

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