x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Service charge should not be borne by tenant in Dubai

The owner of a Dubai property is the one responsible for any service charges and cannot simply add a figure to the rent.

Dubai Marina. Residents in the emirate do not have to pay service charges on top of rent. The charges are paid by the landlord. Razan Alzayani / The National
Dubai Marina. Residents in the emirate do not have to pay service charges on top of rent. The charges are paid by the landlord. Razan Alzayani / The National

My tenancy agreement is due for renewal soon and although my landlord has kept the rent the same in line with the Rera index calculator, he has added a “service charge” of Dh10,000. We were informed of this in February, and the renewal indicates that it will start from June 1. The issue is that my contract remains the same with no mention of this service charge. That is requested in a separate letter with the renewal. My understanding of UAE law is that service charges are the landlord’s responsibility unless I agree otherwise – which I do not. Can I just pay my rent and renew the contract and safely ignore the request for service charges? Is it better to send a letter advising why I am not paying and quote the UAE law? Also I have been asked to sign an acknowledgement of receiving this letter. Will doing this implicate me for paying the service charge? HF, Dubai

My understanding is that the owner of a property is the one responsible for any service charges and he cannot simply add a figure on to your rent. Unless your contract has previously included any service charges or states that you are responsible for them, then it is my view that he cannot do this. Any increases in costs to you can only be in accordance with the Dubai rent laws, and any changes to a contract must be notified 90 days before the renewal date. If you have been asked to provide written receipt, I would suggest that you only do so if you add wording to the effect that while you have received the request it is not acceptable and you cannot be held liable for any service costs of this nature.

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

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