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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 October 2018

Abu Dhabi to make tenant evictions easier in bid to cut court disputes

Owners will be able to bring in enforcement agents within days to reclaim unpaid rent or even empty the property - if committee agrees the tenant is at fault

New legislation will allow landlords to directly enact enforcement agents when a tenant fails to pay outstanding rent. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Municipality 
New legislation will allow landlords to directly enact enforcement agents when a tenant fails to pay outstanding rent. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Municipality 

Tenants who become involved in a dispute with their landlord could be evicted in just days under changes to rental regulations in Abu Dhabi.

The Rental Dispute Settlement Committee will allow landlords to directly bring in enforcement agents to reclaim to reclaim the money or evict the tenant if they fail to pay outstanding rent.

The rental dispute committee said it will issue a decision in a minimum of two days and a maximum of three weeks.

At present, landlords have to go through a lengthy legal process of up to six months to be in a position to trigger an enforcement notice.

The intention is to quickly resolve disputes where there is a clear party at fault and shorten proceedings in first instance and appeal courts.

Yousuf Saeed Al Abri, undersecretary at Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, said the move is intended to "create an attractive environment for real estate investment in Abu Dhabi" and "ensures simplification of procedures".

The change will come into effect at the end of this week.

“For non-payment of rent, the landlord can bypass the court and proceed straight to the enforcement department for the collection, evacuation and the handover of the leased property," said Ben Crompton, from Crompton and Partners Estate Agents.

“The enforcement period is a great improvement on the current average of three to six months.”

The rent committee was set up to enforce law 20 of 2006. That regulates the legal relationship between landlord and tenants such as how much the rent can be increased and the maintenance obligations.

Tenants can contest their landlord's claims and can also appeal the decision within 15 days.

ADJD and property companies hope the changes will encourage more investment in Abu Dhabi's real estate.

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A wide range of cases end up in court, including for money owed and eviction cases. Cases to recover deposits are also very common.

Other changes cover the sub-letting of properties and rooms without the knowledge of the owner.

When a property is sub-let, or if there is damage or changes to the property such as commercial activity, landlords will also now be able to refer directly to the rental committee for an independent inspection.

Mario Volpi, an estate agent and columnist for The National, said clear and simple rules will encourage confidence in the real estate market.

“Confidence will be boosted by all parties, given that justice will prevail in a much faster manner,” said Mr Volpi, who is sales and leasing manager at Engel & Völkers.

The new procedures are available only if there is a valid Tawtheeq lease certificate for the tenancy registered with the municipality.

Registering lease contracts is already mandatory, though there may be situations where it has not been completed.

Without it, tenants could see landlords take advantage of them, given it reduces the resident's ability to bring a case against them.