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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 October 2018

Homefront: 'What happens to a tenant's personal possessions if they abscond from the UAE?'

The reader wants to know how the contents of home would be handled in such a scenario

If a resident leaves the UAE suddenly, their possessions will need to be removed from the property they were living in. Photo: Getty
If a resident leaves the UAE suddenly, their possessions will need to be removed from the property they were living in. Photo: Getty

I am aware of what happens to abandoned cars left behind in the Emirates when residents abscond and flee to another country. My question is this: while the cars are impounded, what happens to any belongings left inside their homes, such as clothes, furniture, jewellery, electronics, etc.) Is it seized by the state? Or does the bank now own it? MD, Dubai

In the UAE, any abandoned belongings will not necessarily be removed and taken by the court. The court does not send out officers to re-possess a defaulter's belongings, unlike other nations where bailiffs are sent out to take items of value to make up for the debt. In contrast, here in the UAE an arrest order is issued if a defaulter does not pay up. The individual will then be detained- if they are still in the UAE - until they can arrange for the debt to be paid. This is assuming a civil case has been filed. In terms of their belongings, this would be left for the landlord to dispose of when they regain possession of their property.

With reference to the cars left behind; these are not impounded by the police because the banks do not want them but because there are often other debt attachments such as loans from different banks, fines, violations, unpaid Salik or radar violations etc. So if the cars were to be liquidated, all parties stand to gain very little in the long run from the proceeds of any sale. For these reasons they are sometimes held at the impound for some time before being auctioned off.

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My tenant signed an inspection sheet after moving in that included all the tiny faults in the apartment, such as small scratches, dents, etc). After six months in the apartment, she reported damage to the fly screen. It was not something she reported to me on moving in and the contract states that "minor maintenance means repairs and replacement of cooker hood filters, fly screens, pipes, hoses, sink plugs, bulbs and such other items considered minor ... associated with day-to-day usage of the premises". Based on the contract and the fact she did not report the issue on moving in, who should be in charge of fixing the fly screens? MK, Abu Dhabi

Given your contract actually states the exact item that is now damaged falls into the minor maintenance section - and as most contracts state that the tenant is responsible for minor maintenance - it is obvious the repair of this fly screen must fall onto the shoulders of the tenant, especially as it was not mentioned at the start of the tenancy.

Some contracts do allow for fair wear and tear and it is possible that the tenant may state that this fly screen was damaged due to its constant usage but I’m sure the tenant cannot be so cheap as to insist the landlord pays for its repair. It's all about negotiating and having a good landlord/ tenant relationship as a foundation to any future decisions going forward.

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