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Maintenance: who pays?

Despite signing contracts inclusive of maintenance charges, many tenants are unsure what entails major and minor maintenance - and which applies to their lease.

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Maintenance charges should be listed on the contract
Freehold Monthly

Mark Padulli, who leases a villa in Mirdif, says, "My contract says the landlord is responsible for maintenance costs. At the time there was no specification of major or minor. Now I have been informed that the landlord will only pay for maintenance that costs above Dh500. Anything under that will have to come out of my pocket."

Yet real estate professionals are divided on what is correct practice. Martha Antao, of the property management team at Cluttons, says tenants shouldn't have to pay for maintenance, as their rent covers this. "Normally villas are covered by an annual maintenance contract and all works are paid for by the landlord," she explains.

Nitin Dania, residential leasing consultant at Better Homes, says tenants usually foot the bill for minor maintenance. "For villas, the tenant is responsible for minor maintenance such as minor plumbing and the upkeep of any garden areas. As per the current laws, the landlord must pay for major maintenance costs such as air-conditioning breakdown and servicing, structural faults and major plumbing. These charges cannot be passed on to the tenant."

However, Mohannad Alwadiya, managing director or Harbor Real Estate, says maintenance charges should be listed on the contract as an undertaking by the owner, "usually as a percentage of the rent." Khalid Mustafa, who rents a villa in Hor Al Anz, says, "As per my contract the landlord should pay for major maintenance. But, based on what do they calculate major and minor? Last summer I paid to have the air-conditioning cleaned and serviced and also paid for all the plumbing work in the villa," he says.

Nitin says that chiller maintenance is the landlord's responsibility. "Under no circumstance should the tenant have to pay for those charges."

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