Jobless Dubai tenant cannot renew lease until he finds employment

I would like to renew my tenancy contract in February next year and have my Ejari in place until April. However, I lost my job and my visa has now been cancelled. I left the country and should be back in January 2017. I would like to renew my tenancy contract because it has been at a good price for a few years. I am sure I will find another job within three months, so do you think my landlord will have an objection to renewing my tenancy contract with only a visit visa (rather than a residence visa) in place? SB, Dubai

While in principle, your request may seem innocent enough and I am certain you may also be able to negotiate an agreement with your landlord, I must however point out that it is illegal to rent a property without a valid residency visa. A tourist or visit visa is not sufficient.

I am sure you will be able to find suitable alternative employment in time, but you should have your proper visa at least under process by the time of renewal.

I have lived in my apartment for almost two years (having previously renewed at the end of last year) and my tenancy is due to expire in January 2017. My contract states that both parties should give at least 60 days written notice prior to renewal or vacating the property. Recently, I wrote to the landlord to give him notice that it is my intention to vacate the property at the end of the tenancy. However, I was late in doing so, giving the landlord 39 days’ notice rather than the 60 days required as per our contract. Before giving this notice, I had not received any contact or notice from the landlord, as is also required by the contract (both parties). The landlord is now demanding that I pay him a penalty of 60 days rent, for failing to give him the required notice. Nowhere in the contract is there any mention of a penalty amount or penalty clause for failing to give 60 days’ notice prior to renewal, or in my case non-renewal. I have contacted Dubai Land Department, and it seems that this is a fairly grey area, with no written law on this issue. As a gesture of good will, to compensate the landlord for the inconvenience, I have offered to vacate the property over two weeks early, and to surrender up to 50 per cent of my security deposit. The purpose of this offer being to acknowledge the late notice, and to find a quick and amicable solution. However, he is still demanding I pay 60 days’ rent as a penalty, and will not engage in any other discussion. If he opens a case against me with the courts to make a claim, where would I stand? AY, Dubai

This is indeed a grey area and one not actually defined by law. The solution to your situation will require a judgement from the rental committee, if an amicable agreement cannot be found between the parties beforehand.

Your contract states that 60 days’ notice has to be given and you acknowledge that you missed this by three weeks. The rental dispute centre is committed (in the first instance) to always look for an amicable solution, therefore by you demonstrating you offering part of your deposit as compensation is admirable. I would further this by working out exactly what your daily rental amount is (rent divided by 365) then multiply this figure by 21 to see exactly how much compensation would be fair to give to the landlord for not sticking to the contract. If half of your deposit is less that the 21 days rent, I would suggest you try one last time to agree some compromise by offering the difference again. If this doesn’t work, then you must let the landlord file the case at the committee (he will have to pay 3.5 per cent of the rent to do so), then let the committee decide the outcome.

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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