x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Landlords must give tenants 12 months' notice if they decide to sell

On Your Side Keren Bobker explains some notice-related responsibilities landlords have to their tenants, workers' right to gratuity and how to manage a life insurance plan.

My wife and I are due to renew our lease in a few weeks. Although we contacted the landlord with two months' notice to advise him of our wishes, he only replied last week. He told us he would meet our wishes, but with a rent increase of just over 10 per cent. I was fairly sure our rent was about right for the type of property it is and the area it is in. So I went back to him and said I wasn't happy about it. He got angry and said he would sell the property. I then received a letter from him telling us to leave the apartment in two weeks, even though our lease isn't up until the end of February. Can you confirm if he can actually do this? NS, Dubai

According to Dubai's Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Rera), your current rent is correct and you are not liable for an increase in your rent. If your landlord is insistent, the case can be taken to Rera for arbitration. Because he will lose, he will be liable for all costs. As for the threat to make you move, that is unenforceable. By law, he has to give you 12 months' notice if he intends to sell the property, especially as you have complied with the terms of your lease.

 

An article in another newspaper in September 2011 stated that all employees were entitled to end-of-service benefits, according to a ruling by the Ministry of Justice. The article referred to "employee relationships streamlining government expatriate employees' affairs" being governed by the conditions stipulated in the contracts they signed. However, the article went on to state that all contracts cannot contradict any of the rules and regulations enacted in the country. My question is: can you confirm that employees on annual contracts in a Federal authority are entitled to the gratuity regardless of the specific exclusion of end-of-service benefits in the contract? I was on an "open-ended" contract that included a gratuity. This has now been replaced by an annual contract that specifically excludes this benefit. Before I discuss renewal of my contract, I would like to have a definitive answer should the entitlement be disputed. On a related matter, I have read in your column that bonus payments are to be included in final salary calculations. My authority pays an annual performance bonus, which is not included in final salary calculations. AR, Abu Dhabi

The UAE Labour Law states that all employees are entitled to receive an end-of-service gratuity after 12 months of employment. But the full legal documents say that the provisions of the law do not apply to "officials, employees and workers of the Federal Government, Governmental Departments of the Member Emirates of the State, officials, employees and workers of municipalities, as well as other officials, employees and workers working in Federal and local public departments and organisations, as well as the officials, employees and workers appointed for Governmental Federal and Local Projects". In most cases, the general rules are applied to Government employees, but are not legally enforceable. For most employees in the UAE, an end-of-service gratuity is payable unless they have signed a contract formally waiving the right to receive it. This often happens when an employer offers some sort of in-house savings scheme or employees are paid on a commission-only basis. Generally, the non-payment of a gratuity is only acceptable if an employee has signed a document waiving their right to it, However, as mentioned earlier, if they work for a Government organisation, the UAE Labour Law may not apply. Bonus payments should be included in a final salary calculation if they form a regular part of salary and are mentioned in a contract of employment. It is more usual for regular commissions to be included, but a variable annual bonus that is based on overall company performance will not be taken into account.

 

My husband has some sort of life insurance that was arranged by the company he works for. I have some details of the plan, but the main documents are held by the company. How can I make sure I will receive the money if anything happens to him? JB, Dubai

JB's husband is a member of a group life assurance scheme set up by his employer. This pays out a multiple of his basic salary in the event of his death while employed by this company. Because the company set up the policy, it is the owner and can pay the death benefit to whoever it sees fit. In most cases, the death benefit is payable to the employee's dependents, but the best advice is that all employees nominate one or more specific beneficiaries. I recommend that members of group life schemes ask their employers to provide them with a "nomination of beneficiary" form, which should be readily available from the insurance provider. This will ensure that in the event of a claim, it is clear who the beneficiaries are.

 

I seem to have lost my driving licence, but don't know what to do about it. Will I be in trouble if I report it and how can I get a replacement? JS, Dubai

It is not an issue if you have lost your licence and it is relatively straightforward to obtain a replacement. You need to go to a police station to register the licence as missing and they will give you a declaration. You take this to the Roads and Transport Authority, along with a copy of your passport or national identity card and a fee of Dh110. I suggest you also take your original passport and a suitable photograph because these may also be required. I understand that it takes less than an hour to reissue a licence.

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