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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Rent advice: Agent demanding "extreme" move out charges from former Dubai Marina tenant 

The bill includes Dh500 to replace a vacuum cleaner never used by the tenant, who claims the bill keeps increasing every time the agent sends a new email.

The tenant was even asked for Dh500 to replace a vacuum cleaner that was never used. Getty Images
The tenant was even asked for Dh500 to replace a vacuum cleaner that was never used. Getty Images

I’ve read my tenancy contract and the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Rera) website and I am not sure who is responsible for paying moving out charges. Some of the items listed by my landlord seem extreme to me and it seems to me they want to refurbish their apartment at my expense. For example, they are charging Dh450 for curtain rod fixing and Dh450 to dry-clean the curtains, which I consider normal wear and tear. Another charge is Dh500 for a vacuum cleaner replacement but I had my own and never used theirs. I lived in this unit from June 2014 to 2017 and there was no annual review of conditions. Even the inventory at the time of moving in was a series of photos of items available – not the conditions of items being handed over. The unit is a furnished apartment and I am positive the rent already includes the price of the furniture and it’s wear and tear. Year-on-year, the rent increased by 5 per cent while rent in Dubai Marina was going down. I have been emailing back and forth with the property agency since June and each time they respond, they have added new charges to the list. We have tried asking for the landlord’s number (they are Italian and live in Italy) to speak to them directly but the agency said they prefer to work through their lawyer. I understand the fee to file the case is 3.5 per cent of the annual rent but if I win, does the landlord pay the court fees and I am exempt from the 3.5 per cent? Or is it that regardless of whether I win or lose, I have to pay? How long does this process take and what are my chances of winning? Should I give in and pay the above? The 3.5 per cent is less than the sum they are asking now (lease for 2016-2017 was Dh142,065), in addition they have included chiller fees for April and May which totals Dh1,000. In the three years I lived there, I did not pay chiller fees. The initial email I received from the agent in June was for a total amount of Dh4,275. Each subsequent email has new items/issues and more money added to it. Do I have a winning chance here? ML, Dubai

Condition reports are becoming more common, especially for fully furnished properties but unfortunately as you do not have one to compare, it makes it more difficult to apportion who is responsible for what. Even if the contract allows for wear and tear, this is also open to interpretation so this cannot really be relied upon.

It is true that any property has to be returned in the same condition it was given at the start of the tenancy, so at least here we can all have a base to start on.

All the points you mention regarding condition of items/furniture make sense to me but it is the landlord you have to convince.

In answer to your question, if you win a case at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee (RDSC), the cost of filing the case is also awarded as part of the settlement. This is of course on the understanding that you filed the case in the first place. The cost of filing the case is always on the person doing so.

The process takes approximately 30 to 60 days depending on the complexity of the case.

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Read more:

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Predicting who is likely to win any of these cases is difficult because the law is not set on precedent but based on interpretation of the law by the presiding judge at the time of the hearing. It would appear to me that you have justification on some of the points but I cannot say either way about a specific result for the reason given above. What I can say is that history has shown that the RDSC would appear to favour tenants but this is just an opinion and does not guarantee this to be so in your case.

Although too late for you now, if moving into another furnished property in the future, make sure there is an inventory and condition report carried out before moving in, so as to avoid these unnecessary situations.

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