Steps for Dubai property buyer to remove sitting tenant

I am buying a property for the purpose of moving in as I am currently renting. I have come across multiple properties which are suitable to my budget and requirements, however they are tenanted with contracts expiring in a couple of months. What steps do I need to follow to ensure I can move into my new property once the contracts are done? All sellers have vacating notices to their respective tenants, but how do I make sure those notices are valid and that the tenants will be vacating? Are there any supporting documents I should be asking for? Or can I approach the Dubai Land Department to check the validity of the notice? YM, Dubai

Vacating letters from tenants have unfortunately proven to be defective in the past as the right of the tenant to change their mind supersedes any letter they may have written. There are therefore no cast iron guarantees that a tenant will actually leave a property when he says he will, until of course he goes ahead and physically vacates it.

To reach a measured decision, you have to look at all the facts at your disposal. You must answer questions such as: does a landlord have a vacating letter from his tenant because he bullied him into writing one or has the motivation to move come directly from the tenant himself because of a job move or fam­ily situation, for example? These are the circumstances that need your careful analysis and judgment when deciding which property to go for.

Ultimately there is a process to evict a tenant from a property you are buying if you require the property for your own use. Before the expiration of the current rental contract, you send a 12-month notification to vacate via notary public or registered mail for reason of wishing to move into the property yourself. You can explain to the tenant that this renewal will be his last and that he will have to vacate at the end of the next contract. This is the only legal way to guarantee you claim vacant possession.

To strengthen your position to guarantee vacant possession of the property with a tenant in situ could be to add the tenant as part of the sales contract. Having a clause in the contract merely stating that the responsibility of guaranteeing vacant possession lies with the seller is not enough. A clause could be inserted in the sales contract that states the tenant agrees to vacate before the sales transfer and is required to sign that clause or the whole contract, in addition to the seller and you as the buyer. This would definitely add weight to your case in the eventuality that a tenant reneges on his decision to leave.

In any of these situations you unfortunately face litigation if the tenant decides to stay and as we all know this can be costly and time-consuming.

Getting to know the tenant on a personal level and negotiating directly with him is the key to effecting your goal. Do not leave it solely up to the seller/landlord to ensure his tenant leaves. As we all know, circumstances change and with this so do decisions.

My friend is now in the process of renting a studio in JLT. Her agent has asked for the rental cheques to be written in the name of the power of attorney (PoA) holder and not in the name of the landlord. I would like to know if there is a risk in doing so and whether it is allowed under Rera. MS, Dubai

I would urge your friend not to issue any rental cheques in this way. Firstly, your friend has to see the PoA document and the passport details of the PoA holder. She would also need to see copies of the landlord’s passport and title deed to show proof of ownership. Secondly, I confirm that the deposit and rental amount is payable to the legal owner only. A PoA is produced to facilitate signature(s) on any document if the owner cannot be present to sign himself. Tell her to be very careful if she decides to go ahead and even then, I would urge her to see a written request from the owner that he is happy for the rental cheques to be in the name of the PoA.

Mario Volpi is a real estate professional who has worked within the industry for the past 31 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 mariovolpi64@gmail.com.

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