UAE | Housing & Property

Subletting of homes is illegal in the UAE

Landlords renting out property in the UAE need to know they can trust their tenants

  • By Mariam M. Al Serkal, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 July 9, 2011
  • Gulf News

Unpleasant surprise
  • Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News
  • Many tenants continue to defy the authorities and sublet their rented homes to third parties without the owner’s knowledge or permission. In one case, a studio apartment was sublet to three families at the same time.

Sharjah: Subletting homes is not allowed under the rules of the country, yet many continue to defy authorities and sublet their rented homes to third parties. If an altercation arises with the third-party tenants, the owners are at a risk and will be held accountable.

There have been cases where third parties move into a home without the knowledge of the owner and once they are confronted, still refuse to leave.

That is the case of Mohammad. a 55-year-old UAE national who owns a two-storey villa in Al Yarmook, Sharjah. Almost one-and-a-half years ago, Mohammad was renting the villa out.

But after the tenant left, Mohammad was faced with the dilemma of having three families living inside the premises without his knowledge.

"The tenant had collected a lot of debt and had issued bounced cheques, so he left the country and ran away. He was also unable to pay his rent so I did not mind that much when he fled, because I then had the opportunity to rent it out to somebody else. When I went to visit the five-bedroom villa to check that everything was in order, I never expected to find families living inside it," he said.

Losing money

The villa Mohammad wants to rent out costs Dh55,000 per year, and he has lost a lot more since first renting it to the initial tenant.

"If the people living inside the villa are caught by the police doing illegal activities, it will be my responsibility. The tenant that signed the contract must have given them the house keys. I tried to be civilised and talk to them on many occasions, but they refused to open the door. I stood outside the house and saw them peeking through the curtains to look at me, but they still refused to open the door and talk."

Mohammad went to the police who said the issue could only be taken up by the municipality. He then went to file a complaint at the Rent Dispute Committee at Sharjah Municipality and after weeks of filling forms and visiting department managers, Mohammad's complaint was finally registered last month.

First line of defence for house owners

An official at Sharjah Municipality's Consumer Protection Department explained that if a landlord is faced with illegal tenants, he should immediately contact the Rent Dispute Committee and terminate the contract between himself and the initial tenant.

The committee will subsequently assign an inspector to follow up on the case and visit the house, and will then be required to file a written report.

"In most cases, the people living in the homes know that they are illegal tenants and that there is no contract between them and the owner," said the official.

"The municipality will at first intervene and try to settle the dispute with an arbitrator. But if both sides are unable to come to an agreement, then the case will be transferred to the Public Prosecution," he added.

On the legal stand of the tenants, advocate Mohammad Ebrahim Al Shaiba advised them to file a case against the landlord, who is responsible for summoning the first tenant who leased the apartment since he had the keys to the apartment and did not break the door to get in.

"The tenants have to file a fraud case against the landlord, and the Public Prosecution will decide who the responsible party is," Al Shaiba said.

Comments (8)

  1. Added 12:48 July 9, 2011

    It may be illegal to sublease a villa but the fact is that its a huge business. Get a villa for 55 or 100 K then if you have 5 bedrooms sublease it and make temperory structures and then again sublease it. At the end of the year you get a profit of 100K without doing anything. There are people who have multiple villas and they are potentially making millions in some years. Also they charge commission from each tenent. The bottom line of this issue is the high cost of apartments in UAE. Housing should not be a dream for common man. He should be ensured with the luxoury of living with family even if he is of medium income group. The rent issue can only be controlled by tougher laws and cheap housings. Those who do business by subleasing can easly be identified by the advertisment they give for subleasing and could be srubbed.

    vinod, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 12:15 July 9, 2011

    What's the solution for short term visitors who cannot afford hotels and those unable to bear cost of first entry in to the house which is very high? I think there is a need to make sublet contract with the knowledge of Municipality, with defined space, meaning how many families or bachelors can live in one villa or any big flat with separate entry and exit in the house. The things needs to be defined clearly so we have a clear look for the future

    Kesar, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 12:00 July 9, 2011

    Subletting is prohibited and illegal and anyone who sublets must be held accountable for breaking the law of the land. Unscrupulous subletters are responsible for higher rentals so please report them to the authorities and never turn a blind eye.

    Vikram, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 11:37 July 9, 2011

    How can a case be registered as fraud against the landlord? The sublet tenant should have checked the credentials of who the actual owner of the property is before paying rental to the tenant. They wanted cheap rental and hence knew very well that the property is sublet and they will have to the face consequence. Had the landlord known then it is his fault and can't vacate them.

    Anthony, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 10:32 July 9, 2011

    Most if not all tenancy contracts include a clear unambiguous clause forbidding subletting. In fact subletting is illegal in most countries. It is not only against the most basic living standard but it is also unhealthy and indecent for several families to live under one roof. The municipal officials must intensify their efforts to check this serious problem by launching surprise inspections, imposing heavy fines and ordering the eviction of defaulters. Let us also not forget that several families crowded in one flat put its various amenities under exceptional stress.

    Jameel, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 09:33 July 9, 2011

    I would like to request the authorities be more strict with the owners themselves, as, first of all, they sublet the old houses at high rents and when some problem occurs, they say the tenant is staying without our knowledge. Its just a joke, how can anyone stay in one's house without their knowledge? And sub agents are so greedy and always looking to get maximum out of a property.

    NADEEM AHMAD HAJI, AL AIN, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 00:27 July 9, 2011

    I have been staying in Al Ain for a year now. This kind of scenario is very common here. I don't know why many landlords let their tenants have another tenant, third party. I have my friends who keep on complaining they're paying too much. They can't even find a house near to our workplace because houses are already taken by tenants who wants to become a landlord and make it for business. I hope that there this will be stopped. I think it clearly illegal making this as business by another tenant. Hope that someone might help us to stop this.

    mc alvin, al ain, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 23:46 July 8, 2011

    But how is it possible when a new family visa is issued and renewal requires the tenancy contract of the sponsor before issuing or renewing the visa? So, what is the point of families living in second-hand sub-let villas?

    Agniyah Shaikh, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

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