Dubai’s Rent Dispute Centre levels the playing field

Tags: Property

06 May, 2017

As published in Gulf News
Staff Report

In the three years of operations, it has been intervening forcefully where needed

Did your landlord just cut your utility connections? Then you have a case for Dubai’s Rental Dispute Centre (RDC) to intervene.

“The tenant may apply to both the police station where the property is located to rescind the eviction or to prove its validity, and to the RDC for the retraction of the eviction notice and the provision of damage compensation through a lawsuit supported by official reports,” said Judge Abdul Qader Mousa, Director of RDC, which operates under the umbrella of Dubai Land Department.

Since inception three years ago, the RDC has become instrumental in creating a more balanced legal structure governing landlord and tenant relationships. In particular, it has helped speed up the dispute resolution process.

“Under Law No. 26 for 2007 and its amendments, which outline the relationship between landlords and tenants in Dubai, the landlord is entitled to apply for the evacuation of the property in 12 cases,” said Mousa.

The most common are if the tenant fails to pay rent, if demolition or overall maintenance works of the building are planned, or if the landlord wishes to take back the property for personal use or for a next of kin.

“From the date of restoration of the tenant, the landlord is not entitled to lease to others before at least two years for residential properties and three years for non-residential properties, unless the committee rules otherwise in light of the causes,” said Mousa. “If the landlord does so, the tenant has the right to request for the committee to order proper compensation.”

Regarding rent increases, the tenant must be notified 90 days before the end of the contractual relationship — via a notary public or by registered mail.

Even then, the landlord can raise the rent after resorting to the real estate calculator, and ascertain the value of the permitted increase according to the state, age and location of the property, as well as the services provided. Law No. 43 for 2013 defines the increase criteria in certain percentages, allowing the rental calculator to work out the increase easily. (Dubai Land Department recently instituted a unified rental contract in the emirate.) But there could be other issues dogging tenant-landlord contractual terms. The law allows a landlord to provide the tenant with insurance to safeguard the maintenance of the property until the end of the contract period, at which point the landlord is obliged to refund the insurance or what remains of it to the tenant.

At the end of the lease period, the tenant is obliged to hand over the property to the landlord in the state that it was received at the outset of the contract, except for expenses incurred from normal use or for reasons beyond the tenant’s control.