According to the latest figures released by Ejari — the Dubai tenancy contract registration service — there are over 480,000 tenanted properties in Dubai alone. Naturally, there are thousands more properties rented to tenants in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Umm Al Quain, Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah.
With every tenant there is a landlord, and with each looking to serve their own interests, as is to be expected, there is often a lot of confusion about the rental laws established by the various emirates looking to protect both parties.
The three main regulatory bodies for property in the UAE fall within the most populous emirates. And each emirate having its own Rental Dispute Settlement Centre.
Dubai has the Real Estate Regulatory Agency and Dubai Land Department (DLD). Both fall under the auspices of Dubai Municipality.
Abu Dhabi has the Department of Municipal Affairs (DMA) that takes care of all aspects of the rental law in the emirate. Sharjah has the Municipality where tenancy contracts can be registered and disputes settled.
Due to the size and lack of disputes, the regulatory bodies and laws in Umm Al Quain, Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah are not so prominent regarding tenancy contracts. Although, all state that the municipality would try and help in the event of a dispute of a serious nature.
With each emirate having different rules, they have different regulatory bodies and laws. What often happens is that both tenants and landlords get confused between the different laws, and how they have changed over the years. This often leads to confusion, misunderstandings and, worse, disputes.
In Dubai, all laws are governed by Rera, which has a rental index that regulates rent increases on a yearly basis. Increases are allowed up to a maximum of 20 per cent and served with no less than 90 days notice before the previous tenancy contract expires. This is set against a sliding scale to the Rera Rent Index providing the rent is over 10 per cent undervalued.
In Abu Dhabi, the rental index and rent cap were abolished in 2013. This means that the rental prices are free floating. Nonetheless, tenants and landlords still need to give either party 60 days notice of any amendments to a new tenancy contract prior to the end of the existing contract.
Rents in Sharjah can only be increased after three years of tenancy, unlike in Dubai and Abu Dhabi where they can be reviewed on a yearly basis. After this, rents can only be increased after a further two years of living in a property. As with Dubai, any notification in a change of terms and conditions of the contract needs to be served 90 days before the previous contract’s expiry.
The eviction process for all emirates again vary slightly, while offering protection to the tenant from unscrupulous behaviour. At times, this also leads to confusion and panic.
Many people will attest to the fact they feel they have been abused through rent increases or attempted evictions. Remember there are regulatory bodies in each emirate to help both parties. As long as all the relevant laws are followed, everyone should be able to live in relative harmony.
To feel secure in a homestead — not just from crime, but from rent increases and evictions — is paramount to the UAE property market, as well as the happiness and security of its residents.
The writer is the Managing Director of Property Rights.