Moving out of your rented apartment in Dubai? Make sure you complete the formalities of handing over the apartment to the owner, or property manager. Rushing through the process could get you into trouble.

A Dubai resident recently learned this the hard way. In 2011, he moved out of his apartment and gave the keys and final bills to building security. Six years later, he was detained by police by the order of the Dubai Rental Dispute Settlement Centre (DRDSC) for not following the handover process after vacating the flat.

“In the contract, it says if you want to renew, express your interest to renew a month before the contract expires. So I assumed that if I’m not going to renew, then I can just settle the bills and leave,” the Indian resident, who requested anonymity, told Gulf News.

The resident missed a clause in the contract that said that the tenancy is automatically renewed unless the tenant officially informs the landlord to terminate it. Thinking everything was sorted out, he moved to a new flat and lost communication with his previous landlord. Unknown to him, his lease for his studio apartment was automatically renewed for two years in 2012.

In 2014, the landlord filed a case against him with the DRDSC for non-payment of rent. A judgment was issued two years later ordering him to pay Dh83,000 — equivalent to roughly more than two years of rent plus legal fees.

The resident learned about the case only when he couldn’t renew his visa last month. He went to Dubai Police to check why and was immediately detained.

“The lesson here is that for all your financial dealings, whether it’s with a bank, or with your landlord, always secure a clearance letter after the transaction. I paid a very high price for my stupidity,” the resident said.

Loshini Lawrence, Better Homes Branch Manager — Dubai Marina, advised tenants to always check their tenancy agreements for any specific requirements regarding vacating procedures at the end of their tenancy.

“It is advisable for the tenant to have proper written communication with the landlord when moving out. All the handover requirements must be completed, documented and acknowledged by the landlord, or the landlord’s authorised representative,” Lawrence told Gulf News.

Keone Fernandes, property consultant with Ocean View Real Estate, said these vacating rules can be summarised in three steps.

“To properly vacate the apartment, the tenant has to first coordinate with the owner, or with the owner’s representative, to schedule a property inspection.

Second, the flat should be handed over in the same condition as when the tenant first moved into it — repainted and cleaned. Third, along with the keys [and other gate remotes], the tenant should also hand over the receipts of fully paid utility bills,” Fernandes told Gulf News.

Just as landlords are bound by law to hand over the flat in good condition to tenants, the latter are also expected to do the same, according Law No 26 of 2007.

Both property agents agreed that most tenants usually complete the formalities of handing over rented apartments to the owners.

“In a worst-case scenario, the landlord may file a case with the DRDSC and claim compensation for damages to the property [beyond the limit of the security deposit] and/or compensation for not getting enough notice to vacate,” Lawrence said.

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