Dubai shop owner faces eviction after 28 years as new owners want to demolish building

The owner of my shop’s building has passed away and now the landlord’s heirs are the owners. They sent me a notice of eviction, which was not validated so I refused it. I have been in my commercial property in the retail market for the past 28 years. The new owners (the heirs) want me to vacate the building so that they can demolish it. They have managed to evict 90 per cent of the building already. I filed a dispute last year at the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) and submitted my rental cheques there too. This year I have also submitted my cheques to Rera. Now the owners’ legal team has reached out to me and asked me to vacate; they have sent a demolishing permit and drawings of the new building. But my case is still pending, so don’t they need to serve me a new 12-month eviction notice? Or does the old (non-validated) notice still serve? It is not easy for me to vacate immediately and it will cause a huge loss of business. If I agree to leave, they have promised me a shop in the new building at new rental rate; this will be much higher than my existing rent. Am I eligible for any loss of business during this period? Or would you advise I stay in the old building as long as possible? SK, Dubai

A proper 12-month not­ice to vacate a property sent through notary public or registered mail is the only legal way to inform a tenant. If the old notice has not been sent in this way, then they will have to send out a new 12-month notice. The reason for eviction (because of demolition) is the landlord’s legal right, however the correct written permissions from the competent authorities also have to be shown.

Anything that you agree with the landlord has to be in writing, including what is to happen after the new building is built. In any case, as a building does not spring up overnight, I suggest that the landlord compensate you for the period while the it is being built by offering you the new shop either at the same rate of rent or at the very least agree to only incremental increases that will allow you to be able to pay these over time, rather than a large sum over and above what you are paying now. In the end, it’s all about negotiating. If you are prepared to help him now, he should recognise this by helping you in the future.

I have a tenant on a one-year tenancy agreement that was signed in June 2016 and all the rent cheques have been paid. The tenant lost his job in December and notified me with a three-month notice to vacate. The contract doesn’t have any early termination clause and there are no penalties mentioned either. The deposit will be returned to him upon clearance of bills and return of keys at the end of the tenancy term. I have offered to either find him a tenant from his end (a colleague or a friend) or to list the property; then if a new prospective tenant moves in on the same terms I will refund part of the unused rent. There is no progress on any new tenant yet, but the property has been listed for viewings. Am I obliged to return part of the rent that he is claiming on the basis of his job loss? MR, Dubai

If the contract does not mention any early termination clauses, the result to find a solution lies with mutual consent. Legally the tenant has signed up for the full-term agreement, and if during this time they are not able to fulfil the contract it will then be up to both of you to find a solution. Legally you would be entitled to keep all of the rental monies, but given that the tenant has lost his ability to pay through job loss, morally this would seem harsh if you did keep it. I stress, however, that if you did it is not illegal.

I see the solution in finding another tenant, but as you say although it is being advertised, no new tenant has been found. I would therefore suggest lowering the asking price to attract new interest and then negotiate that the difference in rent be made up by the outgoing tenant. This would seem a fairer way to resolve rather than just keeping the rest of the rental monies.

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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