Renting in Dubai: the facts

We unlock the complex issue of tenancy rules in Dubai Comments

© ITP Images
Talking point

Once you’re in your new pad
Q: Are there any laws on how much I can change my apartment or villa, such as building new walls or renovating?
A: ‘You will need to obtain the owner’s permission,’ says Patel. ‘In the case of new walls or total renovation, the owner may need the permission of the developers.’

Q: Why is it unacceptable to hang laundry on the balcony?
A: ‘There are a few reasons for this: it can cause a hazard if there are cars below, and it also ruins the look of the buildings,’ says Patel. ‘Satellite dishes are often not allowed for the same reason.’

Q: Who has a right to hold a key to the property? How do I monitor this?
A: ‘Technically, no one should have a key to the property unless it is agreed before the lease agreement is signed,’ explains Patel.

Talking point

Disagreements With Landlords
Q: What should I do if I have a quibble with my landlord, and in what order?
A: ‘First, try to solve the issue amicably, and try to have as much written communication as possible,’ Patel explains. Then, talk to your Home Owners Association, although they can only do anything if you have a registered tenancy contract,’ advises Davis. ‘If you can’t solve the issue between yourselves, contact the Dubai Rent Committee (DRC, and let them intervene and mediate,’ continues Patel. In order to file a dispute with DRC, a tenant must first ensure that the rent contract is registered with RERA. The fee to register a dispute is 3.5 per cent of the annual rent, with a minimum of Dhs350 and a maximum of Dhs20,000. The person bringing the case may also have to pay other costs. A representative from law firm Hadef & Partners says, ‘It is common for a tenant to claim the fees and costs back as part of their case but, even if successful, there is no guarantee they will be awarded them by the DRC. In some cases, the tenant and landlord split the final costs, but it is on a case-by-case basis.’

Q: What should I definitely not do?
A: ‘Don’t use bad language, be aggressive or threatening, and do not stop paying rent and bills,’ says Patel. ‘If the utility bills are in your name, you are personally responsible for them.’

Q: Are there basic amenities my landlord must provide by law?
A: ‘By law, the tenant has the right to enjoy the property without intrusion from the landlord. Provided he/she does not carry out any illegal or immoral activities, the landlord should allow privacy,’ clarifies Volpi.

Q: What are the basic tasks a landlord has to fulfil in the UAE?
A: ‘The landlord should pay the services fees to avoid any loss of services, unless something has been agreed between tenant and landlord,’ Patel confirms.

Q: My apartment has been damaged after a small fire in my kitchen. I think the stove was faulty, but I can’t be sure. What should I do?
A: ‘If you experience a fire due to a faulty appliance, obviously contact the landlord to inform him/her of the situation, and to see if he/she has insurance. We advise all tenants to insure their belongings, furniture and contents against theft and accidents due to fire, flood and so on,’ says Volpi. ‘If neither of you have insurance, it is the landlord’s responsibility to check the wiring and/or replace the faulty appliance if it was provided in the first place.’

Talking point

Q: My neighbours are noisy and antisocial. What should I do?
A: ‘Try talking to them first – be calm and rational – because they may genuinely not realise they’re disturbing you,’ Davis advises. ‘Talk to other neighbours to see if they’re having similar issues: you could gather information as a group. If this doesn’t help, you could raise the issue with your HOA (Home Owners Association) if one exists, or perhaps talk to your building management or security.’ As a last resort, you could also report them to the police.

Talking point

Q: I didn’t realise I was subletting my apartment, but have now been told I have to move out: what should I do?
A: ‘Subleasing is illegal: there are cases of agents leasing properties in their names and asking owners to have a subleasing clause in the tenancy agreement,’ Patel says. ‘There have been cases where the agent has disappeared and the owner’s cheques have been returned unpaid. In this case as a tenant you have no rights and you must vacate.’

Talking point

Q: I’ve been told I have to vacate my apartment/villa. What should I do, and in what order?
A: ‘First of all, make sure the landlord is within his rights to evict you, as per the terms of your tenancy contract,’ Patel recommends. ‘If so, first arrange a removals company or make other plans to move your personal belongings. Next, you must ensure that you disconnect your DEWA, cooling, TV, phone and internet services, if applicable. If the owner is not within the rights of the contract, explain to the owner you will seek advice from Dubai Rent Committee and will not move until there has been a DRC meeting.

By Shane McGinley
Time Out Dubai,

User reviews:

Posted by: JIJOU on 05 Nov ' 12 at 10:49

hi !

I have received a notification from my landlord to quite the studion i am currently renting as it is the end of our tenency agreement, but i definitly do not want to move as i have been here only since one year and i don't want to move now again.
Do you know if he has the right to force me to move ?
i keep calling the number 8004488 but the line is permanently busy.

Thank you.

Posted by: leila on 25 Jan ' 12 at 21:34

I would like to ask RERA DGP MIRDIFF Appartments has the rights to charge tenants a percentage of rent amount as commisions charges???
An appartment viewed 3 weeks earlier has increased by > 10% today, how come who governed this hiking in rent charges???? (i.e 1 B/R appartment was last month 40,500AED now the same appartment is AED43,500 ++???. Please RERA clarify this.

Posted by: C.Fung on 25 Jan ' 12 at 12:39

According to an article by staff reporter, Zaher Bitar,which appeared in the Gulf News last year, the RERA chief says that the maximum tenancy renewal fee is AED160, anything more is not legal.

Posted by: deborah bellis on 25 Jan ' 12 at 12:03

Only last night - friends of ours got scammed by a registered UK agent working in JLT - He wrote the cheques out to himself and asked my clients to sign - they didn't twig until they phoned me at 9.30pm . He has no POA and had the title deeds in the name of the LL and passport of the landlord .
After a few phone calls he got a bit angry until I told him I was a registered broker - He returned the cheques that were made out to him but told them they couldn't have the cash security deposit back - I rang him again and gave him 12 hours to return the cash in full otherwise I would advise them to call the police and DREI & RERA.Low and behold 9am this morning cash was returned in full .

The "agent" and I use that term loosely - is the MD for the company....

I wish there was a Name and shame policy here in Dubai _ he has been reported to RERA - but what will happen ? Seriously ?

There are some fabulous agents here in Dubai - It just takes thieves like this to give us all a bad name .

Posted by: John Lethbridge on 25 Jan ' 12 at 08:59

'.......Freehold areas include Dubai Marina, Downtown and the Palm Jumeirah....'

Have I missed something? I thought freehold properties were still a 'promise' rather than a reality in the U.A.E. Can you own the land 'in perpetuity' or is it really just long leasehold?

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