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What Steps Can Tenants Take If Landlord Delays Responding to Renewal Contracts in Dubai?

The Tenancy Law enhances tenant protection in Dubai's housing market, yet challenges persist in its application to commercial leases

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Pavitra Shetty

Published on July 1, 2024, 10:37:58

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renewal contract

In a recent case, a tenant in Dubai faced uncertainty after the landlord remained unresponsive for six weeks after issuing an eight-month tenancy renewal contract. Despite attempts to negotiate for a standard 12-month contract, the landlord has not responded, leaving the tenants unsure of their next steps.

According to UAE's Law No. 33 of 2008, which amended parts of Law No. 26 of 2007 governing landlord-tenant relationships, tenants are not required to provide notice for non-renewal if the contract has a specified start and end date.

The law’s 90-day notice period is intended for either party to propose changes to the contract at renewal. However, if the landlord does not communicate, tenants can vacate at the end of their tenancy.

Many landlords and tenants may not be aware of this rule, potentially leading to disputes. If a tenant vacates without notice, landlords may attempt to withhold the security deposit, believing that notice was required. This could result in the tenant needing to file a case with the Rental Dispute Centre to resolve the issue.

Applicable Law and Tenant Rights

The relevant law is Law No. 26 of 2007 (as amended by Law No. 33 of 2008) ‘Regulating the Relationship between Landlords and Tenants in the Emirate of Dubai’ (the “Tenancy Law”).

This law applies to all leased lands and properties in Dubai, excluding free accommodation provided to employees. Under this law, tenants have the right to automatically renew their leases, derived from Article 25(2) of the Tenancy Law, considered a matter of public policy. Any agreement to the contrary between the parties is unenforceable.

However, the landlord can refuse the renewal under certain conditions, such as property demolition, significant renovation, personal use, or sale of the property. Strict notice requirements must be followed for eviction, including a twelve-month notice served through the Notary Public or by registered mail.

Lease Renewal Laws for Landlords and Tenants in Dubai

Here’s a detailed look at the laws and essentials for both landlords and tenants in Dubai.

Applicable Law

The relevant legislation is Law No. 26 of 2007, amended by Law No. 33 of 2008, titled ‘Regulating the Relationship between Landlords and Tenants in the Emirate of Dubai’ (the “Tenancy Law”). This law applies to all leased properties in Dubai, regardless of their use -- be it residential, commercial, or industrial -- excluding free accommodation provided to employees by natural or judicial persons.

Tenant’s Right to Renewal

Under the Tenancy Law, tenants have an automatic right to renew their leases. This right is enshrined in Article 25(2) and is considered a matter of public policy, making any agreement to the contrary unenforceable as confirmed by previous decisions of the Rental Dispute Settlement Centre (RDSC).

Landlord’s Grounds to Refuse Renewal

While tenants have the right to renew, landlords can object to renewal under specific circumstances:
Demolition for Construction: Landlords may evict tenants if they intend to demolish the property for reconstruction or addition of new constructions. Tenants can challenge this claim at the RDSC, which requires the landlord to provide evidence, such as prior approval from Dubai Municipality.
Renovation or Maintenance: Renewal can be refused if the property requires extensive renovation or maintenance that cannot be carried out while the tenant is still residing there. The landlord must submit a technical report from Dubai Municipality or an accredited entity.
Recovery for Personal Use: Landlords can evict tenants if they or their first-degree relatives intend to use the property personally. Proof that the landlord lacks suitable alternative property is required. This ground is mainly relevant for individual landlords and may be challenging for commercial leases, where landlords might own multiple properties.
Sale of Property: If the landlord wishes to sell the property, they must provide evidence of the sale, such as a broker agreement or a memorandum of understanding. Simply declaring the intent to sell is insufficient.

Notice Requirements

For eviction, landlords must serve a notice if the grounds align with the mandatory conditions. The notice must:

  • Be served at least twelve months before the eviction date.
  • Be delivered through a Notary Public or by registered mail.
  • Clearly state the grounds for eviction.

Failure to adhere to these requirements allows tenants to challenge the notice, potentially leading to its rejection by the RDSC. The landlord would then need to serve a new notice, delaying the eviction process.

Eviction Order

Once the notice period expires, landlords can apply to the RDSC for an eviction order. If the RDSC finds the landlord’s grounds valid, it will issue an order, and the tenant must vacate the property.

Protecting Your Rights

For Tenants:

  • Document Everything: Keep detailed records of all communications with your landlord.
  • Know Your Rights: Familiarise yourself with the Tenancy Law.
  • Seek Legal Advice: Consult a legal expert specialising in Dubai’s tenancy laws.
  • Use Formal Channels: Send notices via registered mail or through a Notary Public.
  • Consider Legal Action: If disputes persist, file a case with the RDSC.

For Landlords:

  • Follow Legal Procedures: Ensure all eviction notices meet the legal requirements.
  • Provide Sufficient Evidence: When claiming grounds for eviction, be ready to present necessary documentation.

Another Case in Abu Dhabi

In another case, a tenant in Abu Dhabi faces a different dilemma. With their tenancy contract set to expire in one month and an unexpected need to leave the country, they are seeking clarity on their obligations. Despite having previously agreed to renew the contract, they must now cancel their residence visa and leave.

A situation like this largely depends on the landlord's discretion. While the tenant may face penalties for short notice, negotiating with the landlord for a compromise is advised. Potential penalties could amount to one or two months’ rent. Finding a new tenant could also help mitigate these costs.

Protecting Your Rights

To protect your rights as a tenant, consider the following steps:

  • Document Communication: Keep a record of all communications with your landlord, including emails, messages, and letters. This documentation can be crucial if a dispute arises.
  • Understand the Law: Familiarise yourself with the Tenancy Law and your rights and obligations under it. Knowing the legal framework can help you make informed decisions and recognise when your rights are being infringed upon.
  • Seek Legal Advice: If your landlord is unresponsive or you face potential legal issues, consider consulting with a legal expert who specialises in landlord-tenant laws in Dubai. They can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation.
  • Use Registered Mail for Notices: When sending important notices, use registered mail or the services of a Notary Public to ensure that your communications are formally acknowledged.
  • File a Case if Necessary: If you cannot resolve issues with your landlord and your rights are being violated, you may need to file a case with the Rental Dispute Centre. Legal action can help enforce your rights and potentially recover any withheld deposit.

To protect your rights as a landlord, consider the following steps:

  • Follow Legal Procedures: Ensure all eviction notices meet the legal requirements.
  • Provide Sufficient Evidence: When claiming grounds for eviction, be ready to present necessary documentation.

Conclusion

In both scenarios, tenants are advised to communicate openly with their landlords to seek amicable solutions and be prepared for potential financial repercussions.

By understanding the legal framework and practical considerations, both landlords and tenants can navigate the complexities of lease renewals and avoid disputes.

The Tenancy Law offers increased protection for tenants and stability in Dubai’s housing market, though challenges remain in its application to commercial leases.

For any enquiries or information, contact ask@tlr.ae or call us on +971 52 644 3004Follow The Law Reporters on WhatsApp Channels.

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