Dubai tenant wants to reverse decision to move in after 'things turn ugly' with landlord

I have a dispute with a landlord. My wife recently moved to Dubai, signed a contract with a landlord and gave security deposit cheques and rental cheques. She did not move into the flat because of maintenance issues such as water leak, AC duct cleaning and the lights and curtains were not working. She informed the landlord in writing, who initially refused to help and then sent a maintenance contractor to check, after which he agreed to carry out the work. But by then things had got so ugly that my wife felt unsafe to live in the flat as her worry was that the landlord would harass her for future maintenance too, even though there is a clause in contract that the landlord will carry out maintenance on issues costing more than Dh300. Can I approach Rera for help with this and can I also ask for the agency fees to be returned as she has not moved in. We want our cheques back from the landlord without any deduction and fees from the agency. We have still not organised Ejari on our tenancy contract. Please advise urgently as we have to take a decision on this. HS, Dubai

I assume that the contract has been signed by both parties. If this is the case, the commission to the agency is due irrespective of whether your wife has moved in or not. Rather than go immediately to the rental dispute committee, which by the way is an option for you, I suggest you (as the husband) arrange a face-to-face meeting with the landlord. If this is not possible, I recommend you take up the communication role with any party regarding this property to explain how your wife is feeling about it all.

There needs to be a definite line put down that cannot be crossed by anyone, otherwise you will have no alternative but to take the matter further. You are correct that the tenant is entitled to quiet enjoyment of the property and certainly should not have to live in fear of the landlord or indeed anyone else for that matter. Clear guidelines therefore have to be made and adhered to.

The fact of the matter is that you have signed a contract, so unless you can get the landlord to annul this contract it will be difficult to get your cheques back, unless, of course, you do file a case at the rental dispute committee and the judge finds in your favour, which is not necessarily guaranteed. Please remember that there is a fee of 3.5 per cent of the rental amount to file a case.

I bought an apartment on the Palm Jumeirah in August, the seller of which had already served an eviction notice via the notary in May stating that he wishes the tenant to move out (in 12 months etc) because the property was being sold. The tenant says that now that the sale has been completed he needs another notice, from me as the new landlord, stating my reasons for wishing him to leave – and that the new notice would reset the clock, so he is able to stay until August 2017. Does the sale invalidate the first notice or am I still entitled to rely on the old owner’s eviction notice? The information available online is very contradictory and even the Land Department/Rera don’t know the answer. JN, Dubai

Your dilemma is a tricky one to accurately give advice on because the law is silent on this. The facts are, the tenant was served a correct 12 months notification to vacate for reasons of selling, therefore I do not see why this notice now becomes obsolete in the eyes of the tenant. The sale should not invalidate the notice, in fact quite the opposite as the reason for eviction has now become a reality. Having said this, I have witnessed instances where a tenant has won the right to request a second notice. This doesn’t mean, however, that this sets a precedent. If you do not wish to send your own notification for reason of presumably moving in yourself, then your only other recourse would be to file a case at the rental dispute committee, which will ultimately make a judgment specifically for your case. I realise this is probably not quite the answer you are looking for, but sadly if you (hypothetically) go ahead and ask five different people this question, I suspect you will get five different answers.

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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