Legal Advice - Leasing
Dubai Leasing Laws, Regulations and Legal notices
Since 2010 all tenancy agreements are legally required to be registered with Ejari in Dubai. This is something that should typically be done by the landlord, however some landlords are still not registering their properties, our advice to tenants would be to ensure your property is registered even if you have to do it yourself, which you can. The cost is approximately AED 160 for typing plus AED 35 administration fee. You will need your original tenancy contract, a DEWA bill, a copy of the title deed or site plan and a copy of your passport and visa. Ejari ensures rental agreements are fair and transparent to the parties involved and that their terms and conditions are given full weight, should disputes arise.
The law is very clear on eviction and does not allow a tenant to be removed simply because a landlord wants to lease the property out for a higher rental income. Landlords have grounds for notice to their Tenants if (1) they or a next of kin wants to move in or (2) if they want to sell the property or (3) if the property requires extensive renovation or requires demolition. In the case of next of kin a landlord must prove there is no other option available. In the case of the Landlord stating they wish to move into the property, if they don’t they cannot re-lease the property for two years, the tenant is fully within their rights to take a case in front of the rental committee if this happens
If your landlord does have grounds to move in, you must be given 12 months’ notice, this notice can only be served at the expiry of your current contract and particularly applies if the landlord or his family plan to move in or if he plans to sell the property. The eviction notice must be notarized and sent via registered post. Failure to do this means you are entitled to stay in the property until the appropriate eviction notice is sent and the notice period served.
Your landlord can increase the rent each year, but only if two points are satisfied. The first is that any changes to the contract can only be effected as long as 90 days’ notice before the expiration of the agreement is given by either party. If this notice window is missed, no changes can be made and this obviously includes the rent. If the 90-day notice has been respected, then the second point is to see what the permissible rental increase is by checking the RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Agency) rental calculator. Assuming the above was adhered to, notifying you of the increase via email is allowed. Only the 12-month notification to vacate has to be served either via notary public or registered mail. Your property can be sold by your landlord while you are still living there. It should be marketed as a property with a “sitting tenant”. If the new owner then wants to move in, they must give you a 12-month eviction notice once the property is handed over to them and your current tenancy contract expires.
If a landlord wants to increase your rent and it is in line with the rental calculator, or change conditions to your tenancy contract or if a tenant wants to vacate a property, you must both give each other 90 days’ notice of your intentions. Failure to do so means that a landlord cannot legally raise the rent and a tenant could be told they haven’t given sufficient notice to move out. Some tenancy contracts will have different notice periods written into their addendums, these points are in direct contradiction to the law, however if they have been agreed by both parties and a dispute arises it may be that the addendum and not the law will be applied. It is safe and advisable to ensure your contract at the start of the tenancy conforms to the law to avoid issues further along the line.
RERA’s guidelines to limit rent increases do not apply to properties governed by the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). Therefore landlords are free to raise rents in accordance with market demand. If a landlord is being completely unreasonable, the DIFC courts do oversee rental disputes in the Small Claims Tribunal and the main court.
You can negotiate and in all cases I would recommend you try the “keep the peace route first” not all landlords are Sharks and indeed not all tenants are going to trash your property or bounce cheques. So before you head to file a case at Dubai’s Rental Dispute Settlement Centre (RDSC) try talking, be reasonable it may well be that the Landlord just didn’t realise or has been badly advised. The cost of filing a case is 3.5 percent of the annual rent, to a minimum of AED 350 and a maximum of AED 20,000. Other fees may be levied by RDSC on the plaintiff for summoning experts, payment of expert’s fee, fees for deposit of rent with RDSC etc. Most disputes are judged within 75 days.