The right rental property at the right price can be hard to come by. So when you find a great place, make sure you are familiar with the rules before you sign a contract.
RERA, Dubai’s real estate regulatory agency, outlines the roles and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. Among them are Laws No. 26 of 2007, No. 33 of 2008, and Decree No. 2 of 2011.
To help you know where you stand and what your rights are legally, we worked on this FAQ for you. Here’s what you need to know.
How many cheques are usually needed?
In Dubai, rent is usually paid by post-dated cheques, typically split in one or four payments. This will likely change as the Dubai Land Department recently announced that tenants can soon pay with online banking rather than PDCs.
How do you negotiate a better rate?
In general, a one-off payment for the full amount will get you the best rate. If that is not an option, paying with fewer cheques or making a larger initial payment will get you a better deal. Try asking for a free month or two of rent on top of your 12-month period if neither of those works.
Does the landlord have a right to ask for a security deposit?
In Dubai, landlords can require tenants to pay a security deposit at the beginning of a tenancy agreement, which is frequently the case. This is usually around 5 to 10% of the total rental. Note that this must be returned to the tenant, fully or partially, upon vacating the premises.
Who pays for repairs if something within the property breaks during my tenancy?
Maintenance and repairs are the responsibility of the property owner. Unless otherwise specified. Make sure you read the fine print before you sign your lease. For example, a landlord might only cover major repairs or those exceeding a certain amount.
Are there any clauses I can use if I need to break my contract?
Check if your contract includes an exit or early termination clause. Without this, your landlord might ask for compensation. Some contracts may include break clauses where you pay your landlord a number of months’ rent as a penalty for terminating early.
Can my landlord evict me before my tenancy agreement is completed?
No. A landlord can only ask you to vacate through a 12-month written notice via registered mail or notary public.
My landlord wants to increase my rent. How much can they increase it by legally?
The DLD’s Rental Index maps out maximum allowable rent increases and establishes a baseline rental cap. If your rent falls below this baseline, your landlord may increase it according to the RERA rate. A landlord must notify you 90 days in advance of any increase.
I am unable to use the communal areas of my building because my landlord has not paid the service charges. What can I do about this?
In order to resolve this issue, your first step should be to contact your landlord directly. In the event of non-payment, you may be able to seek legal recourse. The Dubai Rental Disputes Settlement Centre can be contacted at 600 555 556.
It seems that all the rental properties I am interested in are going very quickly. When I put a deposit on a property, how can I be sure nobody will undercut me 24 hours later?
As soon as your deposit has been received, the property should be reserved for you and removed from the market. In order to be absolutely certain, however, it is advisable to sign a contract as soon as possible.
Increasing rental prices and landlords mulling over possibilities of evicting tenants who do not want to or cannot pay the rent hikes. The current residential property situation in Dubai will feel familiar to tenants who have lived here before 2008.
On one hand, it is easy to see how this can be exasperating for tenants. On the other, it could be equally frustrating you are a landlord. If you were one, you would naturally want a better return from your investments, especially if your property is being leased below market rate.
Tenants and landlords are at odds, and with prices continuing to rise, the conflict between the two will continue to arise, so both sides must be willing to compromise.
A tenant should remember that being evicted by your landlord is rarely personal. In Dubai, many property owners are investors who are seeking the best possible return. Think about what you would do if you were in their shoes.
Even so, there are only a few circumstances under which a landlord can legally evict a tenant. To prevent running into legal problems when evicting a tenant, landlords must be aware of the relevant laws.
How can landlords and tenants avoid conflicts? The following steps help.
1. Read your contract carefully. At the start of your tenancy, ensure you fully understand your contract. It mentions all the terms of your lease and the responsibilities and expectations of both parties. This written agreement prevents misunderstandings or disagreements during your stay.
2. Maintain a positive relationship with your landlord. Try to be the kind of tenant your landlord wants to keep around. You can get a lot done by being polite and reasonable. Even if your landlord does not fulfill their end of the bargain, be calm and professional. But at the same time…
3. Know your rights as a tenant. Knowing your rights equips you with the knowledge and empowers you to make informed decisions, especially when issues arise. Learn about lease and rental agreements, rent increases, evictions, and so on. You can read about tenants’ rights by clicking here.
4. Try to negotiate. Most matters can be resolved appropriately and in a timely manner by simply speaking with your landlord directly. Especially if you built a solid foundation from the start. If your landlord plays hard ball, you always have an option.
5. If all else fails. You can consider opening a case against the landlord at RERA. The Rent Dispute Settlement Centre can help you settle your dispute if you can’t work it out with your landlord. Keeping detailed records of your case can help you prove the validity of your claim.
Moving out of your home for rent? Tenants should keep these tips in mind to avoid last-minute hiccups.
1. Settle outstanding dues. Is there any remaining dues you need to pay? If you are moving out, you may owe your landlord a number of outstanding payments, including cleaning costs, DEWA bills, cooling charges, internet fees, and repair fees.
2. Do a thorough inspection. To get your security deposit back, make sure the property is in good shape and that you’re not liable for repairs. In case you have been living in a fully or partially furnished place, check everything for any damage and have it fixed.
3. Tidy up before leaving. Before you leave, make sure the rented property is neat and tidy so that the next tenant can move right in. You can even have your removals company arrange for the cleaning and garden tidying for you.
4. Do your part of the bargain. In relation to the contractual obligations that you have as specified in your contract, are there things around the property that need to be repaired? Be sure to get it repaired in advance.
5. Disconnect all utilities. Give local service providers of phone, internet, or TV connections sufficient notice of your move out so that they can arrange your final bill. Ensure that you collect your DEWA and other utility deposits too.
6. Take all your belongings. You should arrange for your stuff to be picked up as soon as possible if you leave stuff behind. It’s always best to take all your belongings with you since landlords are not obligated to store your things once you leave.
Check out our guide on the Tenancy contract renewal rules in Dubai.
We got some tips for you too! Many landlords call us with questions about tenants who don’t pay, sublet or abscond.
The most important piece of advice we give? Before signing a lease, take the time to vet the tenant. Take the time to meet the tenant and vet him or her personally. Get all identification and affordability documentation. A solid contract should also be in place, outlining all agreed terms, including a ‘no subletting’ clause. Plus, make sure it is registered with the Ejari.
Now for cheques. If the contract is in the name of the tenant, then the cheques have to be issued by the tenant. If this is not the case, the landlord should have the details of the third party providing the rent cheques to the renter on file, along with a letter confirming the cheques were handed to the tenant. As soon as the tenant occupies the property, the landlord should inspect it to ensure that it hasn’t been sublet.
And finally, evictions. As per law 33 of 2008, the landlord must give a 12-month notice with the reason for for eviction notarised and sent via registered mail. Additionally, a landlord can only demand eviction only after the contract ends and under three circumstances:
1. Hire a property manager. Even experienced landlords believe that hiring a competent a property manager is essential to maximize the value of their rental properties. Not only that, you get to avoid all the headaches—from collecting rent, handling complaints, to maintenance and repair requests.
2. Treat tenants with respect. If you decide to lease your property yourself, try to maintain a good relationship with your tenant. If there is mutual respect, your tenant is more likely to take better care of your property which is good for your investment in the long-term.
3. Know the law. Thinking of raising the rent or perhaps want to evict a problematic tenant? Not so fast. Landlords have rights as well as responsibilities to fulfill under the Dubai law. As a landlord, understanding your obligations will help you protect yourself and your rental property.
4. Understand the contract. Make sure the tenancy contract is clear. For example, it should specify which maintenance and repair requests are responsible for. If you feel the tenant is asking you to carry out maintenance that is outside what is stipulated, refer him or her back to the contract.
5. File a rental dispute case. If you have exhausted all possible options including speaking with your tenant to work out an arrangement for any issues that arise, consider opening a case. The Rental Dispute Centre caters to both landlords and tenants to ultimately find a resolution for both parties.