Only landlords can allow subletting

I have rented a flat from an estate agent and sublet it to some single women. However, there was a couple of surprise visits to the flat by the municipality after three and six months; they informed me that I have taken a flat in a family name but am renting it out to single people, which is not allowed. I informed the agent about the incident and said that if they want us to vacate in 15 days, we will but we want to know if any penalty applies to us. The agent is asking for a letter confirming we will vacate in 15 days, which I don’t want to give as my contract says the notice period should be for four months. Can the agent ask me to move out without giving me notice? Also I need to continue subletting until the contract ends. MA, Dubai

The first thing I would like to point out is that subletting is not allowed, unless the landlord is aware and has also agreed to it. Presumably if the landlord was aware, he should have also known that bachelors are not permitted in family areas or accommodation. If he was not aware of you subletting, you have broken the terms of the contract and therefore should be asked to vacate the property within 30 days, irrespective of the four months notice that the contract states. Fifteen days is not a sufficient time to vacate. My advice would be to cease subletting, even if your landlord knows this, as clearly you are in accommodation not advisable for bachelors anyway. With reference to any penalty, I suspect the visit from the municipality was meant as a warning so I don’t think you will be liable for a fine this time round. If you continue to sublease to bachelors, you will probably get fined eventually.

If I am going to get an apartment of three rooms. Can I rent out at least two of those rooms to my friends or colleagues while I only use one room? CS, Dubai

When you say three rooms, I assume you mean three bedrooms. You want to keep one room for yourself and then you intend to sublease the other two rooms, correct? In this situation keep in mind that subleasing is not allowed unless the landlord is aware of this and more importantly has agreed to it.

If you do not get confirmation from the landlord of his/her agreement and you still go ahead and sublease the other two bedrooms, you will run the risk of being evicted (all of you) as you will have broken the contract. Please be careful, get permission from the landlord, if he doesn’t agree seek another property.

My contract states that I should give 90 days’ notice to the landlord if I choose not to renew the tenancy contract. I’ve given him about 32 days. He now wants two months’ rent from me as a penalty — do you have any advice, in particular do you know if Rera have a clear policy on this? SR, Dubai

Law 33 of 2008 is clear about any changes to a contract. These changes have to be communicated in writing giving 90 days’ notice of the same. Not renewing is arguably a material change to a contract and therefore it would appear you have breached this by giving only 32 days’ notice. I would, however, urge you to double check your contract. Does it give a penalty amount for not giving the required notice? If not, then you ought to be able to contest the two-month penalty. Ultimately, if there is no agreement between you and the landlord, you will have no alternative but to seek judgement from the rental committee.

Mario Volpi is the chief sales officer for Kensington Exclusive Properties and has worked in the property industry for more than 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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