What can Dubai landlord do if tenant does not vacate apartment that is up for sale?

We bought an apartment that is currently rented. An eviction notice was send to the tenant by the previous owner, registered in the court and sent by courier. The reason for the eviction is our intention to sell the apartment. I have been trying to contact the tenant but she does not reply to our messages, emails or phone calls. The rental agreement expires very soon and is the same date as the eviction notice that was served a year ago. If the tenant does not vacate apartment in time I am in a really uncomfortable situation. What can I do? AK, Dubai

In theory, the tenant in situ has received the eviction notice in the correct manner and for the correct period (12 months). The only problem I foresee is that if the tenant refuses to leave, you are then left without an alternative but to file a case at the rental dispute committee. However, the outcome may not be 100 per cent what you expect. The judge will have to decide if the tenant should vacate as per the original notice or it is also possible the judge may allow the tenant to stay one more year and request that you (as the new owner), send your own 12 months’ notice. The outcome is not predictable at all.

Every year I have a rental dispute with my landlord’s agency in terms of increasing the rent. I normally wait for couple of months and then deposit the cheques at the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Rera) with a nominal increase of rent. This year too they have demanded an increased rent, which I think was within the Rera index at that point of time. However, they refused any negotiation. The tenancy is in my wife’s name and she is outside the country now but keeps travelling to Dubai. The landlord’s agency, when communicating with me through email, has said it filed a case against me three months ago. It has never given me the case number. Now it is almost six months since my tenancy contract expired. I don’t want to continue with this property or the landlord’s agency. So how can I file a vacating notice as they say they have a case against me. I am fine with paying the rent that I owe. Should I wait for the eviction procedure or go to Rera? Additionally they have not done any maintenance on the property during my six years of living here. AS, Dubai

If you wish to terminate the agreement, the following should be adhered to: 90 days before the renewal of the agreement, you should inform the landlord (in writing) that you do not wish to renew. The 90-day rule is there to inform either party of any changes to the contract. Not wishing to renew would be a material change (in my opinion), which is why it is important to give this amount of notice.

You mention that it is almost six months since your contract expired but any contract automatically renews unless terminated so I presume you have been living in the property without payment of rent, which is why the landlord is saying that a case has been filed against you. I suggest you pay the outstanding rent owed as you have done before and lodge the cheques with Rera. Check the contract to see what it says about terminating early as most contracts state a two-month penalty clause to leave before expiration date. If you do not wish to pay any penalty by leaving midway through, I suggest you leave at the end of this current term but state this fact by giving the landlord the 90-day notice. In the meantime, I would just sit tight and wait to see what happens with their case, no need to file anything yourself because you want to leave anyway, correct?

With reference to the non-maintenance, I presume this is the case because either you have taken care of this or there have been no maintenance issues to sort during this time. Either way, the landlord does have a duty of care to you to maintain and or repair the property as necessary.

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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