Know your rights - renting in Dubai

Moving home? Read these top tips on getting the best for your bucks

If you're looking at moving home soon, then this is something you need to read. We spoke to Mario Volpi, the chief sales officer at Kensington Executive Properties on how to make sure you know your rights, and make the most of your money.

Before signing an agreement, check the following:
1 Before embarking on their search for their next home, tenants should ensure they are dealing with a reputable licensed RERA agency/agent. This can be easily checked by requesting the trade and RERA licenses or by visiting the Land Department’s website, www.dubailand.gov.ae.

2 Verify who the owner actually is. Ask to see copies of the title deed and passport. In the case of a representative, ask to see the power of attorney documentation, which also needs to be attested and valid.

3 Ask who is liable for chiller fees. Typically these are the responsibility of the landlord where properties have centralised A/C, but there are certain areas of Dubai where chiller fees are charged separately.

4 Make sure that the landlord is up to date with the maintenance fees. This will ensure that you will not be subject to any disruption to services or access to gyms, pools etc.

5 Ask what the strategy is for the maintenance or upkeep of the property should anything go wrong. The landlord is normally responsible for any major maintenance and the tenant is responsible for minor. To clarify, major maintenance is often regarded as anything that would cost Dhs500 or more and minor less than Dhs500.

6 Double check all the terms and conditions, notice periods, early termination of a contract, penalties etc. make sure all eventualities are mentioned in the contract.

7 Check the property thoroughly by doing a condition report. This will ensure defects are rectified at the start of the tenancy and highlight any issues before moving in to ensure responsibility is the landlord’s.

More useful points to consider:
• Check the asking price by doing research on the area to ensure you are not overpaying. Remember, though, that there is a difference between an ongoing rental price i.e. a property with a tenant in situ, and a vacant market price rent. The latter is always going to be higher, so don’t just ask neighbours what they’re paying in rent as this will not necessarily help you.

• Do your research on the area. Does it fit your lifestyle in terms of what it has to offer such as leisure, transport etc?

• This of course depends greatly on the actual situation, but provided the tenant is keeping within the law in terms of occupying the property, the tenant has the right to claim any unfair or unjust situation against him by filing a case at the rental dispute settlement committee. I would always advise negotiating with the landlord in the first instance before opening any case at the RDSC.

• If there is no provision in the contract for early termination, the tenant is then at the mercy of the landlord to find an amicable solution should they need to break the contract. It’s important to have all eventuality clauses mentioned in the contract, because one never knows what will happen in the future.

• There is a misconception that tenants have to give 90 days’ notice when not renewing their contract. In the past, this was the case, but Law 33 of 2008 amended Law 26 of 2007, removed this need. Many landlords are not aware of this change so continue to penalise tenants who do not give this amount of notice when not renewing. In reality, a tenant actually does not have to give any notice if they are not renewing. This would appear unfair to a landlord, but no law is being broken if no notice is given.

• Subleasing is strictly not allowed unless the landlord is aware and has agreed.

• Pets. Make sure that permissions are granted for tenants with pets, especially dogs. These permissions should be given not only from the owners/landlords but also from the building’s owners’ association if the property is an apartment, and even from the municipality.

• Organise the disconnection of any utilities from your old property.

• Apply for new connections.

• Sign up for Ejari (you will need this to connect DEWA).

• Remember to request NOC permissions from developer for removals logistics.

• Clear all outstanding dues with existing landlord (if any).

• Research and engage removal company.

• Enquire what provisions the landlord has in terms of building insurance, although this is often covered by the building management. In addition to this, tenants ought to take out contents insurance that also covers the cost of rehabilitation in case of fire or flood.

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