x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Standoff prevents Reem Island tenant from moving furniture out

Mario Volpi helps a reader who is ready to leave the country but is being prevented from moving furniture out of the apartment.

A view of Marina Square on Abu Dhabi’s Reem Island. Sammy Dallal / The National
A view of Marina Square on Abu Dhabi’s Reem Island. Sammy Dallal / The National

My lease for my one-bedroom flat in Marina Square, Reem Island is due to end on March 5, after which I will leave the country. I am therefore selling all my furniture and belongings. I have been informed by the building management company that to move furniture out of my apartment I am required to get a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from them, and to do this, they need an NOC from my landlord. My landlord has refused to give me an NOC until I obtain a clearance certificate from Abu Dhabi Distribution Company (ADDC), which I will not do until a few days before I vacate the apartment as ADDC will cut me off once the clearance certificate is produced.

This gives me pretty much no time to wrap up the necessaries in making sure the apartment is empty before I leave. I have tried to negotiate with my landlord with regards to this and they are unforgiving, stating it is the company “policy”. I have read my tenancy contract and under no clause whatsoever does it say I am required to obtain permission from the landlord, or any other party, to move furniture out of my apartment.

I have already been stopped by security once when someone came to buy a couple of chairs and a TV. Moving out is stressful for anyone, let alone making sure all loose ends are tied up before you make your move out of the country. So, I’d like to understand if the landlord or the building management company have a legal right to stop me from moving my furniture out as I sell it? I have lived in Abu Dhabi for many many years, and neither my parents nor I have ever had to deal with this sort of situation before. SA, Abu Dhabi

The key to all this is your landlord and from what I gather your landlord must be a company rather than an individual. Employees of the company no matter how high up in the chain of command (unless you are talking to the owner) like to hide behind the “company policy” tagline. Without wishing to state the obvious, you therefore have to really do your best to get to the policymakers.

What your landlord is obviously worried about is that if he wgives you the NOC, he is effectively giving you permission to move out. I know you are just selling your items but in the landlord’s eyes his “NOC” could mean you leave without settling your utility bills, which is why he is asking for the clearance certificate from ADDC.

If I were you I would try to offer your landlord some form of security to prove your intentions are indeed honourable. While I cannot say that this would definitely work, perhaps offering up your passport or something similar for a short period would show you are serious about your liabilities and not wishing to just run away. This may seem a drastic measure but I am sure that if suggested they would then accept your NOC request.

The building management request NOC’s for the reason that in the past tenants/owners moving furniture etc have caused damage to lifts and or common parts of the building; they request a deposit is left for any such damage as insurance. The management company is not stopping you from selling your furniture, they are merely protecting the building from possible damage in the transportation of the items out of it.

My advice would be to try to convince the landlord you are not fleeing without paying your debts or convince the management company that you will pay for any damage caused to the building during transportation of your furniture out of the building if this was to occur.

My landlord wants me to pay a renewal fee. I prepared the tenancy contract myself and she wants to charge me a Dh1,000 renewal fee. Can she do this and what is a renewal fee? This is our second year renewing with her in the same house. MM, Dubai

It is common for agents to charge landlord or tenant or both (shared) a renewal fee. This is a fee that recompenses the agent for the work in agreeing another rental contract, negotiating the rent, drawing up the agreement, collecting and depositing the cheques and of course getting the contract signed. Agents charge anything from Dh500 to Dh1,000 and some even charge another 5 per cent, although I believe this to be excessive. If you were to contact Rera, they will tell you that it is illegal to charge a renewal fee, which I disagree with, as people in business seldom work for free.

Your case however is ridiculous. You appear to have done all the work and your landlord is charging you for the privilege. This should not be allowed and I am sure that if you did get in contact with Rera they would confirm this. Then you would have something to show your landlord as to why you will not pay this.

Mario Volpi is the managing director of Prestige Real Estate in Dubai (prestigedubai.com). He has 30 years of property industry experience in the emirate and London. Send any questions to mario@prestigedubai.com