Dubai landlady refused to do maintenance for nine years – should villa be returned in good condition?

I have lived in the same villa for 11 years and after the second year the landlady refused to do any maintenance. We pay for all essential items including AC compressors, electrics, plumbing etc. We are now leaving so do we have to fill holes and paint the property taking into account she has done nothing in nine years? MO, Dubai

Despite the fact the owner has obviously decided that being a landlord comes with absolutely no responsibility whatsoever due to her decision not to pay any maintenance of her villa over the years, I, however, would not advise giving the villa back in a different (worse) condition as it was originally given to you when you first moved in. I understand your frustration and probably would be tempted to do the same as you are thinking, but presumably you have paid a deposit, therefore if you wish to have this returned, I suggest you be the bigger person and return the villa painted and cleaned.

If you decide not to do this then legally your landlord would be entitled to use the deposit to bring the villa back to the same condition as it was given. If the cost of repainting and cleaning is the same as your deposit, then by all means do nothing. Presumably you had a maintenance clause in your agreement stating that major maintenance is the responsibility of the landlord and minor of the tenant?

If you have been organised over the nine years and kept all the maintenance receipts and invoices you paid, I would have a meeting to request she pay her share and reimburse you. If she refuses, file a case at the rental dispute committee for non-compliance of maintenance. Landlords have a duty of care to maintain a rented property. Most agreements have the maintenance responsibility broken down to a monetary figure so that there is no ambiguity or confusion. For example any single maintenance issue less than Dh500 is the responsibility of the tenant to pay, but over this is the landlord’s. You clearly will have to weigh up whether it is economically worth filing a case given the cost (3.5 per cent) against the amount of the deposit and/or the amount of maintenance paid over the years.

My rent renewal was due last week but we’ve only received the rent document today from the management who run the building. I need this to give to my employer to enable the cheque to be processed. Therefore the full rent cheque will be two weeks late. The landlord has asked for it to be given to the management today. Can they do anything to us because it’s late as we’re now out of the country for two weeks and can’t resolve this issue? JE, Dubai

You do not need to worry. Firstly, a tenancy contract renews automatically, unless it is altered by either party and then the statutory 90 days’ written notice is required or the owner does not want to renew for certain given reasons, in which case 12 months’ notice is required.

From a legal standpoint, the owner would have to give you a written notice requesting you rectify the non-payment of rent and a time frame of 30 days to do so.

I suggest either you or your company gets in touch with the owner and explains the time frame required to produce the rent cheque but that as long as your rent payment is made no later than the 30 days, the landlord cannot evict you.

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.

business@thenational.ae

Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter