Know your rights as a tenant.
When Dubai won the World 2020 expo back in 2013 there was a real buzz around the city, an immediate affect of this achievement was property rental prices soared. These rocketing prices directly affect UAE tenants as landlords look to cash in on the inflated demand.
The hype is starting to subdue and rental fees in the Emirates are slowly leveling out. However UAE salaries are still not aligned with the higher rental prices. Experts now predict that rental fees in Dubai will continue to decrease slowly across the rest of 2015 and will continue to drop further in 2016.
With so much change in the value of the rental property market disputes between landlords and tenants are increasing.
Who is this Guide For?
We have created this guide to help those renting property in Dubai to better understand their rights.
If the Dubai International Finance Centre governs your property you do not fall under the Real Estate Regulatory Agency RERA’s jurisdiction so this guide is not relevant for you.
This guide is accurate at the time of publishing and covers the rental laws and regulations set by RERA. We cover your rights as a tenant in Dubai, what you should be aware of when renewing a rental agreement with your landlord and we examine the process that both landlord and tenant must adhere to when entering into a dispute.
This guide should not be used as legal advice and we advise speaking directly to the Dubai Land Department’s Rental Dispute Settlement Centre if you have any issues with your landlord.
Make sure your contract is registered with Ejari
In 2010 the Dubai Government made it a requirement for tenancy agreements to be registered with Ejari.
Eiari meaning “my rent“ in Arabic is a system used to facilitate and standardise rental agreements within Dubai.
Tenants and landlords share an equal split to register the Tenancy Contract with Ejari. However it is more often the case that the tenant will complete and pay for the process.
The system is aimed at protecting the rights of the tenant and landlord, it will be referred to if any rental disputes arise.
Understanding how Eijari works
The registration with Eijari is fairly straightforward, it can all be done online at Ejari..
This registration will include information about the property and terms of the rental contract. For every successful contract entered Ejari issue a unique barcode. This barcode is the reference for your contract moving forward. RERA may also refer to this record and will add any additional changes as they occur.
To register for Ejari you will require the following documents:
1 - A copy of the original signed tenancy contract.
2 - The Emirates ID and passport of the tenant.
3 - If the Emirates ID is not available, a copy of the tenant’s UAE visa.
4 - last DEWA bill (if new tenant, DEWA Security Deposit statement);
5 - Copy of the title deed of the leased property
The cost of Ejari is AED 160 plus a AED 35 administration and typing fee, your registration will be completed within 6 working hours once you have completed the registration process.
As Ejari is mandatory it is recommended to register at your earliest convenience. This ensures protection in the event of any disputes with your landlord.
Dubai protects the tenant
Your landlord may not just “evict you”
The law in Dubai is on the side of the tenant. A tenant may not be removed on the basis that the landlord wishes to increase the rent.
By law as a tenant you will only have to vacate the property in these three scenarios.
1) You have breached your tenancy agreement or violation of a UAE law.
2) The landlord wants to sell or demolish the property.
3). The landlord wants to self-occupy the property.
If the landlord or their family member plans to occupy the property they must make this known by providing a notarised letter stating the exact reason.
A landlord may also evict their tenant if they plan to sell the property. They must give the tenant 12 months notice by a notarised letter.
In the event that the landlord does not wish to sell the property but wants the tenant to leave, they must show proof that extensive property renovations is required or provide proof that the property is to be demolished.
These are the only circumstances in which a landlord may evict a tenant.
If the criteria is met the landlord may only evict you by giving 12 months notice.
In the event that your landlord meets the criteria to evict you he must provide a notarised statement sent by registered post providing 12 months. The notice must state why you are being evicted and may not change to a new reason without a new notice being sent.
Your Landlord tells you they are selling, this does not mean you have to vacate the property.
If your landlord tells you that they are selling the property you do not have to leave. Property in Dubai may be sold whilst the tenant is occupying. In this case it will be sold with a sitting tenant. Once the new buyer moves in they will also need to provide a 12 month notarised eviction notice.
As a tenant you may request to see the memorandum of understanding (MOU). This is the agreement made when a property is sold. If the landlord is unable to provide the MOU you may escalate your case to the Land Department’s Rental Dispute Settlement Centre.
If your landlord has evicted you for any of the reasons above and you later find out this is not the case you may raise a case directly with the Land Department’s Rental Dispute Settlement Centre. If your case is successful you may be entitled to compensation.
If the landlord is trying to demand more rent than regulated by the RERA Rental Index.
You can understand why a landlord would want to increase their rent, they want to maximise the return on their property.
It is when a landlord tries to increase the rental fee without fully understanding the law that most conflicts take place.
In December 2013 new legislation was passed known as Decree Number 43. This decree limits the maximum rental increase applicable by your landlord when a rental agreement is renewed.
IMPORTANT: Your landlord can only increase your rent inline with the RERA rental calculator
The RERA rental index takes into account your current rent, the property location, property type and number of bedrooms. The index will calculate the rental value compared to other properties in your area.
The results will show how much if any, the landlord may increase the annual rental.
In line with Decree 43 the maximum annual rental any property may be increased by is 20%.
The incremental rental increase bands are as follows
- The Annual Rent is is less than 10% below the calculated market value, there can be no increase.
- The Annual Rent is 11% to 20% below the calculated market value, the maximum rent increase 5%
- The Annual Rent on the property is 21% to 30% below the calculated market value, the maximum rent may increase 10%.
- The Annual Rent on the property is 31% to 40% below the calculated market value, the maximum rent increase is 15%.
- The Annual Rent on the property is 40% below the calculated market value, the maximum rent increase is 20%
The landlord must provide 90 days notice prior to renewal to increase the rent.
As discussed rental increases must be in line with the RERA rental index. The landlord must communicate any rental increase to the tenant in writing 90 days prior to the automatic renewal date, if a rental increase is not communicated then no price increase on the property is valid.
As a tenant you must give 90 days written notice to the landlord if you wish to vacate the property.
If you are unable to reach your landlord or neither party communicates changes of status the rental agreement will automatically renew. As a tenant you should pay your cheques on time to confirm the contract renewal.
At this point if you used an estate agent to originally find and rent you the property a charge may apply. The estate agent is likely to charge a fee to draft the renewal agreement, this charge can vary but is usually between AED 750 and AED 3000.
If you have direct contact with your landlord then the original rental contract will be used.
Still not agreeing?
How to escalate a dispute to the Rental Dispute Settlement Centre (RDSC)
If you are still unable to reach an agreement with the landlord you may want to escalate the dispute to the RDSC. You do this by filing a case that outlines the details of the disagreement.
The RDSC will review the details of the disagreement in accordance with the regulations discussed.
There is a charge of 3.5% of your property’s annual rent to submit a new case, the losing party will eventually pay this charge.
When the process of the RDSC is active it is common for the landlord to ignore requests of maintenance, if this happens you may also have to revisit the dispute centre and process another case to seek services compensation. This will require you to file a new case and pay another 3.5% fee.
Once both sides have submitted their cases the RDSC usually has two hearings. The first meeting will be a mediated conversation between the tenant and landlord where advice is given to reach an agreement amicably. If no agreement is made the case is put before a judge to determine the outcome.
The majority of cases that reach the RDSC rule in favour of the tenant. This is not a suggestion to take cases to the RDSC but the system is very fair and clear rulings are made in accordance with the law It is always best to negotiate before you get to this stage however once the dispute is settled if successful your tenancy will renew for a further 12 months.
For further information on property in the UAE or if you are looking to speak with a mortgage advisor you can request a call back from a RERA approved broker by visiting our mortgage calculator section
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