Dubai Property Tenancy Laws

Before signing a lease contract, it’s crucial to make sure that you have a proper understanding of the rights and responsibilities that you have as a tenant in Dubai. At the same time, you have to understand the landlord’s obligations. Failing to do so can lead to quite some issues related to property rental.

Rights of the Landlord, Rights of the Tenant

Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) of Dubai has set particular laws to manage landlord-tenant relationships. In a nutshell, they pretty much look like this:

Landlord rights

  • According to Article 15, the landlord must hand over their property to the tenant in good condition and permit its full use according to the contract;
  • According to Article 16, the landlord takes on responsibility for taking care of all repairs and maintenance works on the leased property;
  • Article 17 states that the landlord shouldn’t make any changes or conduct renovations of the estate that would directly or indirectly negatively affect its use by the tenant;
  • Article 18 obliges the landlord to provide the tenant with all any official licenses or permits needed for execution of any relevant redecoration or construction on the property.

Tenant rights

  • Article 19 rules that in case the tenant wants to conduct any renovations on the property, the landlord has to provide permission and any official licenses if needed;
  • According to Article 20, the tenant must pay a reimbursable security deposit when renting the real estate; if the landlord refuses to reimburse the deposit either fully or partially, the tenant can address the rent dispute committee for assistance;
  • Article 21 rules that the tenant has to hand the property back to the owner in the same condition they have received it at the time of signing the agreement; regular tear and wear that occur regardless of tenant’s actions might be left out; any disagreement between the parties should be taken to the dispute committee for examination;
  • According to Article 22, the tenant must cover all taxes and charges imposed by the government departments and entities associated with the use of the property; this also includes sub-lease, unless the conditions are different in the tenancy agreement;
  • Article 23 states that after vacating the property and returning its possession to the owner, the tenant must dismount any leasehold improvements they’ve made.

Tenancy Contract in a Nutshell

Prior to getting the keys to your new rental apartment or house, both you and the property owner become part of a rental agreement that is referred to as a tenancy contract. This document basically establishes a legally binding agreement that allows you to take advantage of the property use for an outlined time period and purpose. The tenancy contract includes all the lease terms, including the requirements and expectations of both parties. Clear outlining and definition of terms and conditions in the contract help to prevent any possible misunderstanding and disputes between the parties.

Dubai Tenancy Law

In Dubai, the landlord-tenant relationship is regulated by RERA under the Dubai Rental Law No. 26 of 2007 and amendments from Law No. 33 of 2008. This law basically outlines the roles and responsibilities of the parties. All the rental disputes and rent increase matters are reviewed by the Rent Disputes Settlement Centre (RDSC) under Decree No. 26 of 2013 and Decree No. 43 of 2013, respectively.

Tenancy Contract Regulation in Dubai

RERA generally regulates Dubai’s entire real estate sector and tenancy contract rules. Several years ago the agency launched a new tenancy contract system under the Ejari system. Today, all tenancy contracts in Dubai must be registered with Ejari in order to be legitimate.

Signing a Tenancy Contract

Both tenant and landlord must sign a tenancy contract in the presence of a witness. If necessary, Dubai Land Department (DLD) accepts the signature of the property owner’s legal representative by Power of Attorney (POA). However, POA is only valid for two

years and should be re-stamped by Dubai Courts after this period runs out. Real estate management companies with DLD licenses can also sign contracts for the properties they manage. The official DLD website has a list of approved companies.

Tenancy Contract Expiration

The contract term is extended automatically if the tenant stays on the property after the agreement expires. It extends for the same period or a year, depending on which is less, with all the same conditions and terms as were outlined in the original contract, unless you’ve settled on different terms with the landlord.

Early Tenancy Contract Termination

If the tenant decides to vacate the property they rent earlier than outlined in the contract, the landlord can legally keep the rest of the rent for the agreed period, unless the contract has a particular early termination clause. Since there is no standard law on early tenancy contract termination in Dubai, the tenant must request an early contract termination clause to be introduced into the contract with a notice period and penalty outlined in it in an event of early contract cancelation.

Thus, if the tenant decides to terminate the contract early, they have to notify the landlord at least 90 days before actual moving out. The penalty usually takes one or two months’ worth of rent that has to be paid to the property owner. But, it’s crucial to understand that RERA doesn’t have any regulation for early contract termination, so any refund of prepaid rent or penalty depends solely on the intention and will of the landlord. In other words, having a contract that clearly outlines all the terms and conditions and building trust in the landlord-tenant relationship is imprortant.

What if the Landlords Evicts the Tenant before the Tenancy Contract Expires?

According to the Dubai Tenancy Law, the property owner can demand tenant eviction before the tenancy period expires. But, there are certain circumstances that have to be in place.

That is, according to Article 25 of Law No. 26 of 2007 that was later amended by Law No. 33 of 2008, there are particular cases, in which the landlord can request the tenant to vacate the property before their contract expires. These cases include the following:

  • Tenant’s failure to pay the rent within 30 days after receiving written notification from the landlord;
  • Sublease of the property by the tenant without written approval from the landlord;
  • The property is used for illegal or immoral activities by the tenant or other people with the tenant’s approval;
  • The property is damaged or changed by the tenant or other individuals in a way that threatens its safety;
  • The tenant uses the rented estate for purposes surpassing those outlined in the contract;
  • Tenant’s failure to comply with the law or any of the tenancy contract’s terms within 30 days of receiving the landlord’s written notification;
  • If the leased property is commercial, the landlord can request eviction, if the tenant has stopped business operations for 30 consecutive or 90 non-consecutive days without any viable motive;
  • If a government entity needs to demolish the property for emirate’s urban development.

RERA also specifies that the landlord is also able to request eviction of the tenant after contract expiration even if the latter wants to prolong the stay in the following cases:

  • The property owner wants to rebuild or demolish the real estate;
  • The real estate requires substantial maintenance or repair that’s impossible to do when the tenant lives on it;
  • The property owner wants to sell the real estate;
  • The owner wants to use the property for personal needs or give it to their first-degree relatives.

These cases require the landlord to provide the tenant with written notification via a public notary or mail 12 months before.

What about the Rights without a Formal Tenancy Contract?

According to Article 4 of the Dubai Tenancy Law, having a written rental agreement registered with RERA is obligatory. Without a formal tenancy contract, none of the parties is legally protected by RERA. In the absence of the rental contract, the RDSC and other relevant agencies can’t intervene in any dispute that might arise from rental relations that aren’t registered with RERA, since they are not considered a legally binding agreement.

Defining the Landlord-Tenant Relationship

In a landlord-tenant relationship, the landlord holds the right of property ownership and the tenant obtains the right to employ the property by paying the agreed rental value to the landlord. It is expected that the tenant will look after the property, while the landlord will take care of maintenance matters as specified in the contract. It’s crucial that both parties maintain good relationships that evolve into mutual trust. This is especially important in the event of the occurrence of any issues.

The Effect of Tenancy Law on Landlords and Tenants

The rental market is transparent due to the Tenancy Law. Being the unified rental contract system, Ejari certifies tenancy agreements and contracts between landlords and tenants. The system basically ensures that all private tenancy agreements are converted into legally binding contracts and structured by the form that is approved by the UAE government. Tenancy Law clearly outlines the responsibilities and obligations for both tenants and landlords, while providing dispute resolution, thus protecting each party’s rights.

Can the Landlord Enter an Estate When the Tenant Is Absent?

The landlord is not allowed to enter a rental estate without preliminarily getting permission from the tenant unless it is outlined in an access clause in the contract. The contract should clearly outline the rules and regulations regarding the visiting of the rented estate while it’s occupied by the tenant.

In case the landlord decides to sell the property, they should get the tenant’s permission to show it to prospective buyers. If the tenant grants their permission, the landlord is obliged to notify them 24 hours in advance about their visit. The landlord has to be present at the property during the viewing.

Are There Any Special Rights for Tenants That Stayed on the Same Property for Multiple Years?

The tenant doesn’t get any special privileges or rights for simply renting a property for a long time. The rights and obligations they have are the same as those of any other tenant in Dubai.

Rights in the Event of a Rental Dispute

Such things as an unreasonable security deposit reduction or unreasonable rent raise, among other things, can lead to conflict between the landlord and the tenant.

All rent raises must comply with the RERA Rental Increase Calculator parameters. In case the tenant doesn’t agree to the terms of the raise and it seems impossible to achieve an understanding with the landlord, they should address the RDSC for assistance.

Filing a rental dispute isn’t free. The costs are as follows:

  • 3.5% of the yearly rent (from AED 500 to AED 20,000 depending on the rent) to file a
    complaint;
  • A translation fee of about AED 210 per page for the needed documents.

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