Dubai: If you have an understanding, in writing, with your landlord on a freeze on rent, what can you do if the landlord nevertheless decides to increase the rent? A Gulf News reader wrote in asking this question.
He said: “I would like to seek Gulf News’ help to report about an issue – I had an understanding with my landlord in writing last year that if I decided to renew my contract for this year, I would be paying Dh152,000 as rent. This year, I prepared the cheques 10 days prior to renewal but the landlord rejected them. He said that he had changed his mind and the rent would now be Dh170,000 for this year, and Dh165,000 for the year after that, and Dh160,000 for the following year. Can you report on this matter to make landlords understand that this is unfair?”
According to Dubai’s rental laws – specifically Law No. 33 of 2008 Amending Law No. 26 of 2007 Regulating the Relationship between Landlords and Tenants in the Emirate of Dubai – for a tenancy agreement to be valid, it needs to fulfil certain criteria. Article 4 and Article 9 of the law state certain requirements that need to be fulfilled, including the fact that the rent amount and its payment method needs to be mentioned and the contract must be registered with the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA).
“In case there is a separate, additional agreement between the landlord and the tenant, this agreement should also fulfil the conditions of a valid lease contract as mentioned under Law No. 33 of 2008. At the very least, the additional agreement should fulfil the general conditions for a valid contract as specified under Article 129 of Federal Law No. 5 of 1985 as amended by Federal Law 1 of 1987 and must also be registered or ratified by the Rera,” Esraa Rhibani, Litigation associate at The Legal Group, told Gulf News.
Can the landlord increase the rent despite having previously agreed otherwise?
“In general, in the event that an agreement is concluded between the landlord and the tenant and an agreement is reached on a specific rental fee, the landlord cannot voluntarily withdraw from this agreement and increase the rent as the parties have entered into this agreement consensually and in good faith,” Rhibani said.
However, she added that the legal requirements would be different in case the lease term expires and the tenant continues to lease the property, without any objection from the landlord. In such a situation, the earlier lease contract would automatically be renewed for a year or for a period mentioned in the contract, whichever is less. In such a situation, the landlord does have the right to increase the rent, but would need to notify the tenant about this amendment at least 90 days before the lease contract expires. This notification period applies to any amendment that either the landlord or the tenant would wish to make in the contract.
In general, in the event that an agreement is concluded between the landlord and the tenant and an agreement is reached on a specific rental fee, the landlord cannot voluntarily withdraw from this agreement and increase the rent as the parties have entered into this agreement consensually and in good faith.
“Tenants must try and ensure that all arrangements and agreements on the rental fee are recorded within the tenancy contract that is registered with the Dubai Land Department. The standard tenancy contract also provides for including any and all ‘Additional Terms’ regarding the lease. This would provide for an added security in terms enforcing the rental fee arrangements,” Rhibani said.
How to file a complaint
In the UAE, rental dispute settlement centres adjudicate cases between tenants and landlords in each emirate, except free zones. Free zones have special judicial committees or courts competent to settle rent disputes emerging inside their boundaries.
If you wish to file a dispute with the Rental Dispute Settlement Centre (RDSC), you must provide the following documents:
- Passport and Emirates ID or commercial licence
- Passport and Emirates ID of the landlord/ or commercial licence of the company
- Ejari certificate
- Copy of the lease agreement
- Recent Dewa bills
- Title Deed and Passport copy of landlord
- Any other documentation that can help support your case
What does it cost?
- The complaint fee is 3.5 per cent of the annual rent of the property and must be at least Dh500 and not exceed Dh20,000.
- Translation costs (approx. Dh70 per page, however costs may vary)
- Additional administration costs (approx. Dh110)
Rental dispute centres in the UAE
Rental Dispute Centre
Dubai Land Department
Baniyas Road, Dubai
Call: 800 4488
Abu Dhabi Rent Dispute Settlement Committee
Call: 800 2353
Sharjah Rental Dispute Committee
Rent Regulation Department, Near Sharjah Cricket Stadium
Call: 06 593 1525
Ajman Rent Dispute Committee
Al Rashidiya 3, Ajman
Call: 06 744 8884