Landlord tries to evict Dubai shop owner on short notice after he refuses rent increase

I have two shops in Dubai under the same licence and one of the shops’ property owners has given me an eviction notice. What is the procedure for me to fight the eviction notice? I have invested a huge amount into the restaurant and have been operating there for the past four years. The notice was a surprise to me and I think it was because of my refusal to pay an exorbitant rental increase. What are my chances of saving my business? I have never been a defaulter on cheques or had any other issues. What should I do? My tenancy on this premises expires at the end of April. PR, Dubai

I would actually question the proposed eviction. The landlord cannot just ask you to vacate, he has to have a good reason. The four main reasons for eviction are:

1. If the landlord wishes to sell.

2. If the landlord wishes to use the property himself or for the use of his next of kin by first degree, providing he can prove he doesn’t have another suitable alternative property he could use instead.

3. If the property requires extensive modernisation or alteration that would mean you cannot occupy the property while these works were carried out.

4. If the property required demolition.

For these two last points, the landlord has to show written documentation as proof of the same from the competent authority. For all of these reasons the landlord has to give you 12 months’ written notice to vacate, and this notice has to be sent through registered mail or by notary public.

With reference to the rental increase, a landlord is only allowed to increase the rent if:

a. The Rera rental calculator states this is allowed and;

b. The landlord has given you at least 90 days’ notice before the expiration of your agreement that there will be an increase in rent at the next renewal.

If neither of these two points has occurred, the landlord cannot raise the rent.

My advice is always to try to mediate face to face to try to find an amicable solution. Failing this, you can always file a case against the landlord for being unreasonable at the rent dispute settlement committee in the Land Department.

I recently signed a new lease in Dubai Marina and wrote three cheques as per the tenancy contract, which is due to begin on March 1. After I wrote the cheques, the agent asked me to do a bank transfer instead to the US because the landlord wants it that way. Is there any stipulation in the law regarding this and can I refuse to do the transfer as I already wrote the cheques? And is this how rental payments are usually done in Dubai? LL, Dubai

Be aware that there is nothing in law that states exactly how rental payments should be made other than written on the agreement. It is not uncommon for landlords to request payment via bank transfers (especially if they do not live in Dubai) and in addition for security reasons, normal cheques can also be written and held (not cashed) by the agency or landlord’s representative in case of later default.

While I agree with you that it is normal to write cheques for rental payments, there is a possibility that the landlord may not have a bank account in Dubai. Ultimately a compromise has to be reached but if you really do not want to send the money this way and the owner does not move from his position, you would then have to look for an alternative property.

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.

business@thenational.ae

Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter