Ben Crompton is a former lawyer and current managing partner of Crompton Partners Estate Agents LLC. So when it comes to residents’ questions about and lord’s obligations and the rules on subleasing, he’s your man
I’m about to move into a new property. What are my landlord’s obligations to prepare it?
If you’re renting residential property, the law states that the landlord needs to make it habitable, nothing more. The landlord has no legal obligation to clean, repaint or spray the property for pests, but they often at least repaint as a matter of good practice.
If the property – or any part of it – is uninhabitable, or becomes uninhabitable, then you can apply to the Rent Committee (see box below) to refund or reduce the rent.
I’ve just moved in. What are my landlord’s obligations if something goes wrong?
UAE law states that “the landlord shall maintain the leasehold to keep it fit for use and carry out all necessary repairs – excluding rental repairs – during the rental period unless otherwise agreed”. ‘Rental repairs’ include repairing damage to the fixtures and fittings in a property – light fittings, cupboards, wardrobes and sometimes white goods that came with the property. These repairs are the responsibility of the tenant. The landlord must repair structural deficiencies – such as plumbing, electrics, walls and the roof.
If the landlord fails to conduct repairs then the tenant may carry out the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent, but be aware: you must ask the Rent Committee first (see box below).
Can I house-share, sub-let to other people or assign the lease to another tenant?
The tenant may not assign or sub-let the property in whole or in part without the written permission of the landlord.
If house-sharing, tenants should consider Federal law No. 1 of 2011. Under this law, up to three unrelated people may occupy each room in an apartment or villa, however no more than six unrelated people in total may occupy a villa – there is no limit for apartments. Only one family unit may occupy an apartment or villa, not multiple families. Unrelated males and females may not live together.
When can my landlord raise my rent, terminate my tenancy agreement or change the terms of my lease?
In the event that either party does not wish to renew the lease, or wishes to amend the conditions of the lease, that party shall notify the other in writing two months prior to the date of the lease’s expiry, in the case of residential properties. Your landlord must give you two months’ written notice to raise the rent or terminate the lease.
Tenants should make a note of when their lease is coming up for renewal. As soon as the two-month period passes, the lease will automatically renew on the same terms. After this period, neither party can alter the terms of the tenancy agreement and the landlord can’t refuse to renew the contract either.
During the lease, neither side can renegotiate the terms of the tenancy agreement – including raising or lowering the rent – without the permission of the other party.
I know I need to give two months’ notice before the end of the tenancy agreement to terminate it, but how can I terminate the tenancy agreement early?
You cannot terminate your lease whenever you like. You can only terminate the lease before it expires, if…
- There is a termination clause in the tenancy agreement
- You come to an agreement with the landlord – otherwise you will not be able to terminate the lease and will be liable for the rent until the lease ends.
Many landlords will allow tenants to terminate the tenancy agreement for a small penalty if the tenant finds someone to replace them.
My landlord has decided not to renew my contract. Should he provide me with a reason?
Your landlord does not have to explain why they are not renewing your lease. Before November 2013, landlords were obliged to renew leases unless they had good reason not to – they wanted to move in or demolish the unit. Now, however, your landlord doesn’t need a reason, only the required two months’ notice before your lease agreement expires.
What happens if my landlord sells his property to another person?
The short answer is your position doesn’t change. Your lease will pass over to the new landlord upon purchase. The new landlord is bound by it as if he has signed it himself. To alter or terminate the tenancy agreement the new landlord must still give the tenant at least two months’ notice before the end of the tenancy agreement.
Enforcing your rights
The Rent Dispute Settlement Committee – informally known as the Rent Committee – is located by the Marriage Fund in Al Nahyan Camp on Hazza bin Zayed Street.
The Tenancy Law established this body in 2005 to hear disputes between tenants and landlords. If your landlord breaches your contract, the Rent Committee should be your first port of call.
This guide is a brief look at selected parts of the Tenancy Law and should not be relied upon in a legal context. Seek professional legal advice before taking legal action.
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