x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Landlord and tenant at loggerheads over breaking of lease

On your side: every week Keren Bobker tackles those questions you just can't seem to find answers for. This week: stubborn landlords and why credit card fraud takes so long to rectify.

My landlord is refusing to honour any email correspondence regarding the end of my tenancy, saying that only written, hand-delivered correspondence will be accepted. I'm travelling and this is not possible. The landlord also says I can't move out of the apartment unless they issue a no-objection certificate to the building security. Everything is paid up. They simply won't let me move out because I haven't hand-delivered a letter to them. I simply want to move out a month early. Finally, they refuse to return the deposit to me when we have the inspection and I hand over the keys and Dewa receipt. They say they will send me a cheque or deposit the funds in my account two weeks later. Isn't the deposit supposed to be returned when the flat is vacated?

- BS Dubai

Due to the vagaries of the UAE postal system, it is usual practice for landlords to accept email correspondence, although they can insist on written correspondence in this situation as a formal record of intent. In this case, BS would need to send notice to his landlord by courier. Although a tenant can vacate a property before the end of a tenancy, the landlord does not need to refund the deposit until the final date on the tenancy contract. It is not unusual for them to take a few days to make the payment. While there are cases when the deposit is refunded immediately, it is more usual for it to be paid a couple of weeks later. If the payment is not made, the matter can be taken up with Dubai's Real Estate Regulatory Agency, assuming the contract has been properly registered.

I have been a victim of credit-card fraud and I'm having extreme difficulties resolving the issue with Standard Chartered. On the evening of May 15, I received an SMS advising me I'd made two payments in Tunis, Algeria. I called the bank immediately because I was actually in Qatar at the time and the transactions had nothing to do with me. My card was blocked and I received a letter dated May 16 advising me that it had contacted the merchant's bank for copies of the transaction receipts and it expected to receive a response in 30 days. I didn't hear anything for a long period of time and contacted the bank on July 29 (75 days after reporting it). The bank said there was no update and I would be contacted within 48 hours. The bank contacted me on July 30 and said it would take a further five to 10 days to resolve. I went to the bank's main Abu Dhabi branch on August 7 and the man I spoke to just called the same number and was advised it took 90 to 120 days to resolve this kind of issue. I eventually received a call on August 26 to tell me that the merchant wasn't answering the bank's calls, so it couldn't resolve the issue. I called them again on September 16. I was again advised it would take a minimum of 60 days and a maximum of 120 days to gain a resolution. I pointed out that it had now taken 124 days. I was put on hold for a few moments and when the Standard Chartered employee returned, he told me I was advised during my phone call on the August 26 that it would take 24 days. I don't recall this, but find it strange for someone to say 24 days. I was then advised I would be called at 10am on September 17, but I never received that phone call. It has now been over four months since I reported the fraudulent use of my credit card and I'm still paying monthly interest on the amount, which I refuse to pay off completely as I should be reimbursed. This is now beyond a joke and don't know if it will ever be resolved. Please help. NC Abu Dhabi


While it can take some time to resolve such matters, Standard Chartered did not communicate properly with its customer, nor confirm that he would not be charged for the fraudulent transactions, let alone paying interest on them. I contacted the bank to ask it to expedite the matter and a few days later their official response was: "Upon receiving the complaint, Standard Chartered's customer care unit contacted the customer and launched an investigation into the case. Investigations into fraudulent credit-card transactions are time consuming as it usually involves overseas checks with several parties involved. Once the investigation concludes, the bank reverses the finance charges levied on the fraudulent transactions since the transaction date. We are glad to inform you that the disputed transaction has now been reversed and the finance charges levied on this transaction since May 2012 have also been reversed. We would like to thank The National newspaper for bringing this issue to our attention."


Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com