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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Homefront: My tenant wants better security in my villa. Should I pay for this?

The landlord says his tenant is requesting extra locks, despite no burglaries at the property

.Tenant wants to know who should pay for security issues, landlord or tenant. Getty
.Tenant wants to know who should pay for security issues, landlord or tenant. Getty

My tenant says his wife is concerned about security in their villa. It's a 12-year-old villa and there have been no burglaries in the time I have owned it, which is the last six years. However, they are demanding extra bolts on the inside of the front door and the door to the garden. Am I liable to pay for this? TC, Abu Dhabi

What your tenants are asking for falls into the category of making them feel safe in their home. The fact that there have been no instances of burglaries or break-ins in the area is not actually the point, the sentiment of your tenants ought to be important to you as the landlord and their well-being should be in your interests.

In response to your question, "are you solely responsible to pay for this?", my answer would be, not necessarily but I do believe it ought to be in your interest to (at the very least) contribute. This will go a long way in your landlord tenant relationship.

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Read more from Mario Volpi:

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I have an issue with noisy air conditioning in my rented apartment in Dubai. I recorded a video clip of the noise, and the chief engineer I work with believes it is an issue with bolts around the fan belt. My contract specifies that minor maintenance must be taken care of by the tenant and major maintenance by the landlord, which includes drainage, AC, electrical, etc. Does the issue with the AC have to be of a certain monetary amount before it becomes the landlord's responsibility? My landlord does not want to repair it and says it is down to me. The same thing happened about two-and-a-half years ago but he agreed to pay for the repair then. The contract has not changed since then and I have never been issued with any changes. Can I also check if it is legal for agents to charge renewal fees over Dh160? I have been charged Dh750 for each annual renewal, however, I have never been issued with a receipt for this. SR, Dubai

With reference to the maintenance, it is the norm for landlords to take care of a property's major maintenance and the tenant to be responsible for any minor repairs. The discrepancy lies when there is no monetary value placed on the contract defining what is major or minor. The industry norm seems to be that major is often regarded by any single maintenance expenditure of Dh500 or more and minor under Dh500. That said, it is important that this is defined at the start of any tenancy and placed in writing to avoid any awkward discussions later.

In your case, your contract states maintenance of the AC is the landlord's responsibility so I would press the owner to deal with this as before. Given that nothing has changed in the contract, he should continue to rectify the issue as he did in the past.

With reference to the renewal fees for the agent, the Real Estate Regulatory Agency states that this is not allowed, however, if you are going to renew the contract and you do so using the services of an agent/agency, it is perfectly reasonable for them to charge for the work involved. I would not however go ahead with the payment, which incidentally is normally between Dh500 to Dh1,000, without the issue of a receipt. I would state this to the agent, that you are perfectly OK with the payment but not without the receipt. I suspect that in the past, he has pocketed this sum and not informed his company which is against any company policy.

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