Abu Dhabi landlord refuses to pay for villa repairs

My family and I live in a villa development in Khalifa City A in Abu Dhabi. There have been numerous issues over the years with the glass panels in the showers shattering. This recently happened to our housemaid, who was seriously cut on her hand and required stitches. The landlord has refused to pay to replace the glass panel. He has also repeatedly refused to replace the door panel of the shower in the maid’s room that has been missing since before we moved in, in 2014. Is he legally required to replace these things? Is there a reliable resource where we can check his responsibilities to us as tenants? JS, Abu Dhabi

It really saddens me to receive emails such as yours, explaining that landlords are not prepared to replace this or to fix that. Landlords need to understand that they have a duty of care to their tenants when renting out their property in exchange for rent payable. Unfortunately some landlords (not all), think that once a tenant has been found and the rent is in their bank account that this is the end, when in reality this is the beginning of hopefully a mutually beneficial relationship.

It is true that in most agreements, the tenant is respon­sible for minor maintenance of Dh500 or less and that the landlord is responsible for maintenance above this figure. Even when this clause is written in the contract, it is sometimes difficult to get the landlord to pay their way.

In your case, I assume the broken shower glass was not due to negligence on your part. I would therefore suggest you try one more time to get the owner to pay for the replacement. If you are not successful, I would inform the landlord in writing that you will organise for the replacement yourself, keep the receipt as proof, then deduct this amount from the next rental payment.

My wife and I have lived in our flat for almost two years now. We extended our lease 12 months ago and now wish to vacate at the end of this second year. We have twice sent notice to our landlord (and the property owner) by email, informing them that we do not wish to renew for a third year. These not­ices were sent three months and two months before the expiry this year. Both emails have been ignored, as have other attempts to notify the landlord. I think it’s clear that they are trying to avoid confirming our notice so that they can later claim we did not “properly” notify them. What should we do? AJ, Dubai

It would appear from your letter that you have complied with all that is required of you to give notice that you do not wish to renew your agreement. The law states that any changes to the contract must be communicated in writing (email is fine) by ­either party giving at least 90 days’ notice. It is always polite for the other person to acknowledge this notification, but sadly this sometimes does not happen, by tenants and landlords, I may add.

I suggest you contact the agent (if there is one) to verbally confirm what you have already communicated to the landlord. Even if you are only dealing with the landlord directly, you can proceed with your plans and move out at the end of the tenancy contract.

The landlord cannot file a case against you at the rental dispute centre as you have done nothing wrong. I suggest you pre-empt any further issues by also requesting how the landlord intends to return your security deposit when the time comes.

Mario Volpi is the chief sales officer for Kensington Exclusive Properties and has worked in the property industry for the past 32 years in London and Dubai. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and they do not reflect in any way those of the institutions to which he is affiliated. It does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Please send any questions to mario.volpi@kensington.ae.

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