x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

That old problem – anxious tenants and greedy landlords

Our property expert Mario Volpi helps two tenants resolve their rental worries.

My landlord made me sign a letter stating that I will vacate the apartment after 12 months (because I refused to allow him an increase in rent, which he was not entitled to as per Rera regulations). Can you please advise if this is legal and if I am bound to the letter I signed? He did not state the reason for asking me to vacate and the document I signed is not notarised. I would highly appreciate your advice so I know how to proceed and save my apartment. DW, Dubai.

I frequently talk about maintaining good relationships between landlords and their tenants but most of the time there is an undercurrent of mistrust that manifests itself into sharp practices by one of the parties. Your landlord was clearly upset that he did not get away with charging you a higher rent, so he tries to evict you so that he can raise the rent for the next tenant that comes along.

He can only give you the 12 months’ notice to vacate under two reasons.

First, if he is going to move into the property himself or his next of kin by first degree does so, providing they can prove that there is no suitable, alternative property.

Second, if the landlord is going to sell the property.

The notification has to be notarised and sent via registered post. You have signed a document that appears to have been forced upon you. If you choose to stay and he is not moving in or selling the property, then legally you do not have to move out. Signing any documentation under duress is not legal.

I suggest you have a face-to-face meeting with your landlord to explain you do not wish to vacate at this time and that other than the two reasons given before, he cannot make you leave. It is nobody’s fault that a rental increase is not allowed at this present time and his childish behaviour is typical of how some landlords behave when they cannot raise the rent at their discretion.

Yes, the market appears to be on the up but there are laws that need to be adhered to that protect all parties and landlords would do well to respect this.

If he does not cooperate I suggest you file a complaint at the Rent Committee – four times out of five, the committee finds in favour of the tenant.

I recently moved to Dubai and rented an apartment in Downtown Dubai (Old Town Residences) the lease for which is expiring on March 26. In my recent phone conversation with the landlord, he mentioned that we “will decide on the rental value” should I decide to renew closer to expiry date. My question is whether by law can be increase the rent at all as I thought that for the first two years, landlords cannot increase rents beyond 5 per cent. Is my understanding accurate? AA, Dubai

The question whether a landlord can increase the rent or not is now not governed by a two-year stay, but by the Rera rent calculator, which is found on the dubailand.gov.ae website.

Your landlord is right that more time is needed to see if indeed there will be an increase or not but this is not his or your decision. Ninety days before the expiry of the contract, you should inform the landlord whether you wish to renew or not. Nearer the expiry date, you can input the correct information into the rent calculator (location, size, current rent etc.) and it will immediately explain whether there is an increase due or not for the forthcoming year.

The calculation is based on the average rent of similar properties to yours, not the current market rent. If you’re paying 10 per cent or less than the average rent of a similar property in the same location, there will be no increase in the next rent. There are incremental increases of 5 per cent up to 20 per cent at a time as follows:

10% and under no rent change

11% to 20% will attract a rental increase of 5%

21 to 30% will attract a rental increase of 10%

31 to 40% will attract a rental increase of 15% and over 40% will attract a rental increase of a max of 20%

Mario Volpi is the managing director of Prestige Real Estate in Dubai. He has 29 years’ of property industry experience in the emirate and London. Send any questions to mario@prestigedubai.com