Know your property rights in Dubai
With rumours flying, seemingly ever-changing laws and plenty of confusion about landlords, notice and legalities, Toby Young from Dubai-based Property Rights tells it to good magazine straight.
Feeling comfortable in your home is an essential part of life – and the stress and worry of moving home disrupts people’s everyday equilibrium. The stress starts from the moment that moving is considered or forced upon individuals and families, and this doesn’t stop until long after the removal men have been, helped unpack and you start to find space for your belongings. As most people are aware this is not a quick or easy task; to feel comfortable again it can take
weeks, if not months.
In the UAE we tend to move more often than you would in other parts of the world. There are many reasons for this, ranging from affordability and rent increases to eviction. In Dubai, as with the other Emirates of the UAE, there are laws in place to protect everyone; both tenants and landlords. Understanding these laws is key to being able to live comfortably and without fear, while ensuring that your stress levels don’t rise.
Common Misconceptions of Renting A Property In Dubai
There are many newspaper and magazine articles about people’s rental property rights in Dubai, but unfortunately most of them are out of date and can often be misleading for the reader (the information below was correct as of August 2015).
Inevitably, everyone is looking for information after they have just been told of an impending eviction or rent increase. This will usually lead to an initial panic, and then a snap decision being made without careful consideration. Remember, we all have rights, and the law is there to protect us all from unscrupulous behaviour.
These are some of the most common misconceptions we hear from our subscribers, and the origins of the confusion.
The rent cannot be increased for the first two years of tenancy: The origin of this is the Tenancy Law of 2007, but was then removed from the law in 2008.
The tenancy contract states it is ‘Non-Renewable’ and therefore doubles as an eviction notice: Any clause stating ‘Non-Renewable’ cannot be deemed as an official eviction notice and is thus not legally binding and will be considered invalid.
My landlord wants to increase my annual rent by over 20%: Rent increases are dealt with by the RERA Rent Calculator. The maximum increase they permit is 20%, and that is against their index of rental values, they calculate increases on a sliding scale. A property would need to be over 40% undervalued for a 20% rent increase to be legal.
The rent can only be increased by 5% after the first year: The origin of this was the old Dubai rent caps up to 2008, with some confusion between Abu Dhabi’s rent cap, too.
A tenant leaving a property does not have to give notice: The tenant and landlord must give no less than 90 days notice to the non-renewal of the tenancy contract, unless otherwise agreed.
Steps To Ensure You Know Your Property Rights
Understanding your property rights can often be baffling. Friends and colleagues try to help but often end up confusing you that much more, as do many of the articles on the internet. None of this helps when it’s realised the current feeling of panic are combined with a feeling of helplessness.
To help ensure you know your property rights we suggest taking the following steps:
– Familiarise yourself with the current rental property laws.
– Ensure you are dealing with a RERA-approved broker at all times.
– Ensure you register for Ejari. This will legalise your tenancy contract with the Dubai government.
– Keep photocopies of cheques paid or received as well as all other communications.
– Remember, both tenants and landlords have rights as per the laws of Dubai.
What You Can Do When You Are In Dispute
The key thing to do at all times during a dispute is to try and keep lines of communications open. If there is no communication, there can be no resolution.
It is often easier for tenants and landlords to fall out due to their various understanding of the laws. Often, a polite email or telephone call will solve the issue, but sometimes both parties have to work a little harder to find a satisfactory conclusion. More often than not one party does not understand their obligation to the other or the laws surrounding each of their rights within a tenancy contract.
To help resolve any dispute sometimes additional help will be needed before you consider taking any further action.
Before panicking, try contacting:
– Your real estate broker. You may not have heard from them for a while, but they are often willing to help.
– RERA; they are available to give advice on what steps to take.
– Building management can often be helpful too.
– If you are in dispute don’t get downhearted – whatever the issue it will not be the first and the last time it has occurred. If it is any comfort, others will have been through the same issues.
– If your dispute cannot be solved through logic and reasoning, and no compromise can be reached, there is always the option to turn to RERA and the RDSC.
Steps To Bringing A Case to RERA/RDSC
Going to RERA and the RDSC should be considered a last resort. Not only it is it expensive, but it can be time consuming. To bring a case it will cost you 3.5% of the value of your tenancy contract if it is regarding a rent increase or eviction. Or, if it is about any other kind of dispute then you will be charged 3.5% of the value claimed with a minimum of Dhs500 and a maximum of Dhs20,000.
When looking to file a case you will need to take the following items with you:
– Tenancy contract
– Passport Copy
– Emirates I.D.
– Ejari certificate (if you have one)
– DEWA bill
– Any documentation relating to communication between tenant and landlord
– Cash or credit card to cover the payment for the case
Additionally, if possible, you should supply a copy of the other parties’ passport and a copy of the title deeds too.
When filing a case you will need to go through the following steps:
– Go to the Dubai Land department on Baniyas Road. Parking is available.
– Speak to reception to be guided to the Rental Disputes desk.
– Fill in the form provided (sometimes the reception desk will provide them). If filled in English you will need to have this translated.
– If any part of your contract or form as mentioned is in English you will need to go to the typing centre within RERA to have everything translated into Arabic. Ensure you are clear about the details of your case, as this will be translated too.
– Take another ticket, and go back to the Rental Disputes desk where they will check all of your forms.
– Sign-off on the submission of documentation and provide the 3.5% fee either in cash or (recently introduced) via credit card. You will be given a case number and a receipt, and a hearing date after the documentation has been processed.
The RDSC aim to have all cases heard and adjudicated on as soon as possible. The current guidelines suggest you will have a court date 15 days after submission and have your court hearing within 30 days. The RDSC aim to have all cases heard and completed within 30 days, although this is not always possible. If there is an issue with one side appearing in court then the case may get adjourned to a later date and the RDSC will decide what steps need to be taken. In most cases when this happens they look to have a new hearing as soon as possible. When the case is heard, often the judges will make a decision at the end of the hearing, or alternatively the next day.
In general, with the RDSC the loser pays the fees (make sure you request this when filing your claim). This means that if you have brought the case and win, the losing party will be asked to refund the 3.5% court fees to you. The RDSC judgments are legally binding and are enforced under the laws of Dubai.
Both the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) and the Rent Dispute Settlement Centre (RDSC) are there to help.
To ensure you know your rights the following websites will give you all of the information you need:
About propertyrights.ae: For a Dhs100 one-off fee propertyrights.ae will email you all of your property rights. Quick, simple and easy to use, subscribing takes two minutes. Information includes all the relevant details on rent increases and eviction, as well as the RERA Rent Calculator. All communications are sent in good time, and in advance of their need. All information has been simplified for easier reading and understanding.