Keren Bobker, our consumer advocate, addresses readers' questions on itenancy contracts and how to sponsor your family in Abu Dhabi
Tenancy contracts must be registered for visa applications
I have received a note from my landlord advising me that I have to register my tenancy contract. My neighbours have received the same thing. I have been in the same apartment for nearly five years and not been asked about this before. Do I have to do this, is it a problem and how do I go about it?- AW Dubai
Technically, the registration of a tenancy agreement has been a legal requirement for some years, but has not been enforced. However, an attested lease agreement is now required for all tenants in the UAE to obtain visas for family members. It appears that an attested lease will also be required if a tenant has an issue with their landlord and has to refer it to the Dubai Municipality's Rent Committee. To apply for Ejari, the formal name, the required documents (original tenancy contract, passport with residency visa, landlord's details, copy of title deed or municipality plan, Dewa bill or proof of account) and the completed and signed application have to be submitted to the Dubai Land Department. It costs Dh160 for the registration and Dh35 for typing. The process should be completed within a couple of days. However, it appears that there has recently been a slight change in the system and only landlords are permitted to apply for Ejari if the tenancy has already been registered. Most landlords seem to be charging a fee of Dh500 to deal with the matter. Check out www.ejari.ae for details.
I moved to Abu Dhabi from New Zealand six months ago to take up employment and my family will be joining me in the New Year. I work for a very small company, so I will have to arrange visas for my wife and son myself. Can you tell me what I have to do as I find it very confusing? - KM Abu Dhabi
For a man to sponsor his family, he must have a minimum salary of Dh5,000 plus accommodation or Dh6,000. The following documents are required: passports for all parties plus copies of each, the original marriage certificate plus a copy (attested and translated into Arabic by a legal translation company), originals and copies of birth certificates for children (again, attested and translated), and a passport-sized photograph for each dependent. The father/husband must also provide a copy of their UAE labour contract and a salary certificate from their employer in Arabic. A copy of the tenancy contract is also required and this must have the proper stamp from Abu Dhabi Municipality. The husband has to go to an authorised typing centre to fill out the family visa application form. Including the typing fees, the cost is Dh160, or Dh260 if required urgently. The completed form and other documents should then be taken to the General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs, where it will be checked by an officer. If satisfactory, an interim visa will be issued. If the dependents are already in the UAE on tourist visas, there has to be a change of status and the application for this is obtained via an official typing centre for Dh550 per person. Adult applicants are required to undergo a medical test at an authorised medical centre. A popular place to go is Seha, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, near Al Wahda Mall, where the applicant will undergo a blood test and chest X-ray. This costs Dh290. Medical certificates are usually issued within 48 hours. Following this, medical insurance must be put in place by the employer, in accordance with the laws of Abu Dhabi Emirate. Applications for Emirates Identity cards must be made, although proof of application is sufficient to allow a residency visa to be issued. The medical certificates then must be taken to a typing centre for the paperwork for the residency visa to be completed. This is followed by another visit to the General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs with the original passports, where an official will affix and stamp the formal residency visas.
I have just moved apartments, but the old landlord has not given me back my deposit. I moved three weeks ago, so how do I make him pay me what is owed? He says I should decorate, but this isn't in the contract, which just states I should hand the apartment back in good order, which is what I have done. I had the place professionally cleaned as well. - RS Dubai
The landlord has up to two months in which to return a security deposit. Provided you have retained the receipt and handed the property back in good condition, there is no reason why a tenant should not receive the deposit in full. Reasonable wear and tear is permitted. If any work is required on the property due to the fault of the tenant, the landlord should provide a copy of the invoice showing his costs if he wants to reduce the amount of the deposit, although this is not mandatory. If the landlord refuses to repay the deposit after two months, then the tenant can complain to the Real Estate Regulatory Agency if the contract was registered.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at email@example.com