Dubai real estate agent's Dh5,000 renewal fee is far higher than normal

I am about to renew my tenancy for a two-bedroom villa in Mirdif. I received the renewal notice from the real estate agency stating that I need to pay Dh95,000 for the annual rent and Dh5,000 for the agency fee. Are they allowed to charge such a high agency fee? I also checked the Rera calculator for the Mirdif area and rental prices have dropped. For my villa type, prices range from Dh75,000 to Dh90,000, so can the agent still ask me to pay Dh95,000? Can you guide me on this and who I need to complain to if necessary? LC, Dubai

As per the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) “renewal fees” are not allowed, but estate agents can charge administration fees to aid the renewal. This is on the pretext that agents obviously do not work for free, therefore if a landlord or tenant engages the agent to facilitate or organise the renewal, the party must be prepared to pay the fee.

Getting to your point, I feel that your agent is trying it on in attempting to charge you Dh5,000. The industry norm for admin renewal fees is Dh500-Dh1,000. That said, there is no set amount that is legal, as it is all about agreeing terms. If you do not agree, you can always report them to Rera.

With reference to your second point about the rental amount, any changes to the tenancy contract have to be communicated by either party in writing 90 days before the expiration of the contract. A change in rent would fall into this category. I guess that neither of you have communicated this with each other (in writing) 90 days before expiration, therefore the contract should renew at the exact same terms and conditions as before (no increase or decrease in rent for the next coming renewal). Legally the landlord cannot raise the rent this year, as he did not communicate this to you as stated and also the Rera rental calculator states no increase.

I am looking for off-plan properties that are not typical one to three-bedroom apartments but more exclusive villas meant for top-end investors. What advice can you offer? MT, Dubai

There are not many options for wealthy people in the off-plan villa market, but I would say that the current best offerings are as follows:

• Sobha Hartland

This is an 8 million square feet community of villas and apartments in Mohammed bin Rashid City (MBRC) located close to Business Bay and Downtown. This is scheduled for completion some time in 2018. There are 23 luxury three-storey, six-bedroom villas for sale that face the water canal. There are four types to choose from, ranging in size from 17,061-19241 square feet with plots of about 14,000 sq ft. Prices range from Dh34 million to Dh38m.

• Dubai Hills

This is a 1,100-hectare master planned Emaar development of 4,600 villas and 22,000 apartments forming part of MBRC. The offering of high-end villas (in the first instance) are 97 shell and core six to seven-bedroom villas overlooking an 18-hole championship golf course. Handover will be later this year, with a further 300 villa plots to follow. The size of the plots range from 15,000 to 30,000 sq ft with built-up areas of 20,000- plus sq ft. Prices start at about Dh35m.

• Jumeirah Hills

This Dubai Holdings development is by far the most exclusive, as it is the first freehold project in Jumeirah located opposite the Burj Al Arab; it will house just 60 four-storey villas in total. The “palaces” will be handed over by the end of 2017 on a shell and core basis to enable owners to bespeak the property to individual tastes. There are seven different styles and sizes to choose from, with plots ranging from 20,000 to 24,000 sq ft and built-up areas of 25,000 to 30,000 sq ft. Prices start at Dh40m.

Owning one of these palaces comes with a wide range of exclusive benefits from the Jumeirah Group both locally and internationally. These unique villas are sure to become the most sought-after real estate owing to their top location, limited numbers and after-care benefits.

Mario Volpi is the chief sales officer for Kensington Exclusive Properties and has worked in the property industry for over 30 years in London and Dubai. The opinions expressed do not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Please send any questions to mario.volpi@kensington.ae

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