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Dubai: Can your landlord ask you to pay for maintenance if it has been outsourced to a third party? A Gulf News reader wrote in asking this question.

He said: “I am a tenant of an apartment in a residential building in Dubai for the last 22 years and with every contract renewal it is clearly mentioned that all maintenance shall be provided by the landlord free of cost. Now my contract is coming up for renewal but this time the landlord is asking for a fee for providing maintenance services. This fee shall be in addition to the rent and shall be charged by a separate third party company engaged by the landlord for providing maintenance services. Actually, for many years the same third party company has been providing the maintenance services, but it was free for the tenants. So my question is: Can the landlord charge tenants for providing maintenance, since in previous contracts it was free? If not, then what are the options for me as a tenant? Where can I complain against this new charge levied by the landlord. I have tried to negotiate and discuss this with the landlord but he is adamant and not ready to discuss this further, hence I need to know my legal options here.”

Gulf News raised the query with Hari Wadhwana, an associate at Dubai-based law firm OGH Legal who referred Dubai Law No. 26/2007 and Dubai Law No. 33/2008 amending certain provisions of Dubai Law No. 26/2007, collectively referred as ‘Dubai Rent Law’.

“Primarily, Article 16 of the Dubai Rent Law obliges the landlord to undertake all maintenance work of the property and repair any defects, which affect the tenant’s right of use. The only exception to this provision is if the parties agree otherwise. Therefore, the landlord remains responsible for all maintenance and if parties agree, then this responsibility can be shifted to the tenant or shared among the tenant and landlord,” he said.

“Therefore, it is arguable that the tenant can refuse to agree on taking responsibility for the maintenance as the law does not permit the landlord to unilaterally shift this responsibility on to the tenant,” he added.

the landlord remains responsible for all maintenance and if parties agree, then this responsibility can be shifted to the tenant or shared among the tenant and landlord.

- Hari Wadhwana, associate at Dubai-based law firm OGH Legal
Article 16 of Dubai Rent Law
The landlord shall, during the validity of the contract, be liable for handling the works of maintenance of property and the reparation of any defect or fault that affects the tenant's sought benefit, unless both parties otherwise agree.

He added that any changes to an ongoing contract must be communicated with the tenant at least 90 days prior to the renewal, as per Article 14 of the law.

Article 14 of Dubai Rent Law
In the event that either party to the lease contract desires to amend any terms thereof according to Article 13 hereof, he shall notify the other party thereof not less than ninety days prior to expiry date, unless otherwise agreed by both parties.

“It may be worth it for the reader to see if the landlord raised this request for maintenance obligation prior to or after 90 days lapsed. If after, then the landlord has failed to give statutory notice and on this ground alone, such request by the landlord must fail.

“If the dispute still persists between the tenant and landlord, either party may file a complaint with the Rent Dispute Committee (RDC) based in Dubai to issue an order on the lease agreement. The reader is advised to take legal consultation before commencing any action,” he said.