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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Homefront: Abu Dhabi couple should not bother claiming compensation for '13th month' of rent 

The husband and wife broke their contract early and say they have not been refunded for the final month of the tenancy agreement

Old and new Abu Dhabi. Silvia Razgova / The National
Old and new Abu Dhabi. Silvia Razgova / The National

My wife and I recently broke the contract we had on our villa. This contract began on November 2016 and would have ended in December of this year. We had negotiated a 13-month lease, or what the landlord calls 12 months plus one free month. My actual lease states I had signed a 13-month agreement for Dh240,000. Now that I have moved out, the pro rata amount is being based on 12 months, not 13 months, and the landlord is giving zero value to the last month of my contract. Is this legal in the emirate of Abu Dhabi? Do I have any right to claim compensation for the additional month that was included in my contract? JL, Abu Dhabi

The devil is in the detail and it is this interpretation of your contract that will ultimately determine the final outcome. Breaking any contract before the termination date is only allowed if there is a specific clause allowing this or the landlord has agreed to the breaking of the contract. The normal terms of a tenancy contract is normally for a period of 12 months with a 60-day notice period for renewal. The fact that your landlord has given you an extra month effectively for free if you were to see out your contract to full term, is not recognised which is possibly why he is not counting the 13th month. If you are in the process of sorting out who owes what to whom due to your early vacating, harsh though it may seem, it really is not economically worth pursuing the extra 30 days. Who will ultimately turn out to be the victor in this will be determined by the rental committee at the Abu Dhabi municipality and I suspect it is not worth the hassle to find out.

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My husband and I have been living in an apartment for two years in Dubai. We gave one month's notice to our landlord in writing that we will be vacating our apartment on the expiry of our contract. We also enquired about the refund of our security deposit and was informed that we will receive it after inspection of our premises; the reply also included confirmation of our plans to move out. Two days before vacating, the landlord verbally conveys to us that we need to pay two months' rent as penalty for not giving them two months' notice about vacating. There is no mention of such a notice period nor financial penalty in our tenancy contract. Nor did he notify this to us in writing previously when we first said we were leaving. Are we liable to pay any such compensation as penalty especially since it is not mentioned in our contract? Can we still get a full refund of our security deposit? PG, Dubai

There is much confusion regarding a tenant not renewing a contract at its termination but I can confirm that as long as you abide by what your contract states, you should be alright. You say that your contract doesn't mention anything about a penalty for non renewal nor does it mention the amount of notice you should give, so for these reasons, you ought to be fine. If your landlord is of the opposing opinion and keeps on his point of the two-month penalty, you have no alternative but to fight this by filing a case at the rental committee. It is important to engage with your landlord to find a solution before going to the committee as they always request this type of arbitration between the parties before going ahead with a case. Although I cannot predict any outcome at the rental committee, from what you have said, you should come out of it without owing any compensation to the landlord and your deposit ought to be returned less any amount owed (if any).

Mario Volpi is the chief sales officer for Kensington Exclusive Properties and has worked in the property industry for over 30 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@kensington.ae

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