A tenant's guide to sub-leasing in Dubai 2022

  • Better Informed
  • 24 Aug, 2022
A tenant's guide to sub-leasing in Dubai 2022

It is not unheard of that tenants in Dubai want to sublet a property they themselves have rented. For a number of reasons but often because circumstances have changed for the tenant. 

For example, a tenant may want to split the cost by taking in a sub-tenant. Or the tenant is locked into a 12-month contract but is unable to stay for the entire duration and does not want to pay the penalty. 

But, is sub-leasing legal in Dubai? Read on to find out.

What is sub-leasing? 

For context, it is important to define sub-leasing. There are two different meanings: 

First, when an agency such as Betterhomes obtains the master lease for an entire building and then sub-leases the apartments to tenants. As a result, every tenant in this building owns a sub-lease contract with Betterhomes. 

The second type, which this blog is concerned with, is when an existing tenant subleases or rents the entire or part of a rental property to a third party at any point during the duration of the contract.

Is there a law on sub-leasing?

In Dubai, sub-leasing is covered under Article 24 of Law No.26 of 2007. It states that unless otherwise specified in the tenancy agreement, the tenant must gain written permission from the landlord before sub-leasing the property. 

Further, Article 25 states that failing to obtain written permission from a landlord before sub-leasing a property is a ground for eviction.

To sum it up, tenants are not permitted to sub-let a property without the landlord’s consent unless it is specifically provided for in the tenancy agreement. 

So, all I need to do is ask my landlord? 

Sure. If it is not mentioned in your contract, you will need to get an NOC from your landlord. However, you will find out that not a lot of landlords are happy to consider this prospect. 

Your landlord may not allow you to sub-lease the property for plenty of reasons. They may be concerned that issues may arise with the sub-tenant. Or your landlord may not find the sub-tenant as reliable as you are. 

Side note: You, as the tenant, are liable for any damage caused to the property by the sub-tenants. 

Whatever the case may be, it is up to your landlord whether to allow it or not.

What happens if I sub-let without my landlord knowing?

Sub-letting without your landlord’s consent is not only a breach of contract, but it is also illegal.

If you sub-let a property without obtaining landlord’s permission, he or she has the legal right to evict you as the tenant—along with your sub-tenants—from the property. Regardless of the expiration date of your contract. 

Not only that. Your sub-tenant can pursue a claim of compensation against you. 

I want to sub-lease from another tenant. What are my rights?

If there is a legally binding sublease, the sub-tenant is entitled to the same tenancy rights as the original tenant. A landlord must give 90 days’ notice if he wants to raise the rent, for example. And the increase must be in line with the rental index calculator

Additionally, sub-tenants are subject to the same eviction laws as original tenants, but only if a legally binding sub-lease is in place. 

In the absence of a legal sublease contract, your rights are limited and the landlord can evict you at any point in time.

Okay, what are my other options then?

Many landlords can be incredibly understanding. So don’t rule out the option of striking up a conversation with your landlord to see if you can work something out just yet. Transferring the lease to another tenant is an option, for example.

If that doesn’t work, it may be better for you to break the lease, assuming you can afford the penalties stipulated in your contract.  

If you are certain that you may not need to rent a property for a full year, it would be wise to ask your landlord for a contract that will permit sub-leasing before signing the contract. 

Another option? Find a short-term rent that you can use as your base. If you need a place to stay for a few days or a year, a short-term rental can be more flexible than a long-term lease, as you won’t be locked into a long-term arrangement.

To wrap it all up, sub-leasing is only allowed if the landlord is aware of it and has expressly agreed to the tenant doing so. And if you sub-let a property without your landlord knowing, he or she can file a case against you and get you and your sub-tenants evicted.

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