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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 13 November 2018

Homefront: 'My rent is unchanged, so do I bother with a new contract?'

The tenant wants to avoid a journey to meet his landlord in Sharjah

The Abu Dhabi resident has already agreed the rental rate for the apartment over the phone. Sammy Dallal / The National
The Abu Dhabi resident has already agreed the rental rate for the apartment over the phone. Sammy Dallal / The National

My landlord has agreed to leave my rent unchanged for my next tenancy period. My contract is renewing in two weeks but we have already agreed on the phone to leave the rent for my apartment the same. I pay the landlord via bank transfer so is there any point meeting him to draw up a new contract? If I could avoid a trip to Sharjah, where he lives, to sign the contract that would be helpful but I still want to do everything by the book. What do you suggest? KD, Abu Dhabi

It is great to see that good landlord/tenant relationship bring about stress free tenancies. It is because of your current good relationship that you are able to just initially carry on as normal as regards to the renewal. Ultimately, you will have to meet up because the renewed contract will need to be signed and you will need this to also renew your Tawtheeq.

The Tawtheeq has to be renewed annually just like the Ejari system in Dubai. The landlord can do the renewal but if he doesn’t have access to the Tawtheeq system, you can also renew it at the Abu Dhabi municipality. The cost is approximately Dh250.

My advice would be to get the contract signed as soon as possible, otherwise by delaying, this could cause you issues in the future.

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On June 15, my wife and I rented a new villa in the Springs in Dubai. Then on July 1, we received a "Notice of intention to sell" from our landlord. The letter explains that to market the property they will need to schedule viewings for prospective buyers. My questions are:

1. Is this also a notice of eviction at the end of the contract? By my understanding, no, but I would like reassurance on this point.

2) If they sell the property, will the new owner be obliged to renew the contract at the end of the tenancy contract (if the new owner does not give us 12 months' notice)? Or would the new owner be entitled to evict us at the end of the tenancy contract itself? PJ, Dubai

This notification is not a notice to vacate, it is merely informing you of the wishes of the landlord. If he wanted to formally evict you, they would have to go through the legal process by sending you a notification via notary public or registered mail, giving you 12 months to move out. This notification should be sent prior to the expiration of the tenancy agreement but some landlords do send it at any time. Although there is a specific time an eviction notice ought to be sent, some rental committee judges do allow the 12 months notice to stand if it is sent during the contract but this only depends on a case-by-case basis. Either way, I repeat, yours is not a valid eviction notice.

If the property is sold, the new owner can only evict you if he wishes to move in himself or his next of kin and then only after he has sent another 12-month eviction in the same manner as described above.

The buyer will become your new landlord and the terms of your current tenancy contract cannot be altered at that point. Only by giving 90 days notice prior to the expiration of the agreement can any of the parties alter the contract and even then, there has to be a mutual agreement to the changes.

On a separate note, it is up to you to allow access to the villa for viewing purposes. Unless it is stated in the contract that access must be given for viewing purposes, you would be quite within your rights to restrict these or not allow them at all. You are entitled to quiet enjoyment of the property in return for the rent so if you do not wish to be disturbed, you can always deny the access rights. Having said this, living in a rented property is all about good landlord/tenant relationships so if you do not go ahead and allow viewings this might damage your relationship so think carefully.

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