Renting in Dubai: the facts
We unlock the complex issue of tenancy rules in Dubai 5 Comments
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.
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, www.rpdubai.ae) 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.’
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.
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.’
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.
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