Dubai: If you do not wish to renew your lease contract, but are unable to successfully communicate that to your landlord, are you legally bound to continue leasing the premises? A Gulf News reader wrote in asking the question.
He said: “Hello Gulf News, I have some questions regarding tenancy renewal during job loss. My contract is expiring on October 3. As per our lease, we need to inform the landlord 60 days in advance if we are not renewing the contract. We tried to contact them since the start of August by calling their office and mobile numbers and sent them Whatsapp messages, but received no response. I only received the notice of renewal from them on August 26. What are my options here? I have lost my job and have not found another one yet. Do I really have to pay two extra months’ rent in this case?”
Gulf News raised the query with Aditi Gandhi, a Dubai-based lawyer, who spoke about the rental laws in Dubai, specifically Law No. 26 of 2007 (amended by Dubai Law No. 33 of 2008) regulating the relationship between landlords and tenants.
“Article 14 of this law requires either party to amend the terms of the lease by notifying either party not less than ninety days prior to the contract’s expiry date, unless a different term has been agreed by both parties. Since the tenancy contract requires the tenant to convey its intention of renewal of the tenancy contract not less than 60 days prior to the expiry date, it is pertinent for the tenant to fulfil the aforesaid contractual condition within the stipulated time,” she said.
A Whatsapp message may still be an acceptable form of communication provided it is addressed to the authorised representative of the landlord and has been duly delivered and acknowledged by the person.
Having proof of notifying non-renewal
According to Gandhi, it is also essential for the tenant to have adequate evidence of his notification of non-renewal addressed to the landlord, whether it is an email or a letter received by the landlord’s office.
“A Whatsapp message may still be an acceptable form of communication provided it is addressed to the authorised representative of the landlord and has been duly delivered and acknowledged by the person. If the tenant has complied with the aforesaid requirements, then he is not legally obliged to renew the tenancy contract as requested by the landlord. The tenant might file a complaint before the Rental Dispute Committee (RDC) requesting it to issue a direction of non-renewal of lease contract by arguing that the tenant has conveyed his intention of non-renewal of the lease in accordance with the Law and tenancy contract,” she said.
In case the tenant fails to follow the requirements of the early notification for non-renewal, they may still approach the RDC, requesting the committee to issue a direction of non-renewal of the lease contract and waive any penalty by stating that the tenant has recently suffered loss of job.
“The RDC has in its recent decisions regarded loss of job as a force majeure event [unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract] and permitted early termination of tenancy contracts without imposition of penalty. In addition to the aforesaid, the tenant must ensure that he vacates the leased premises on or before expiry of the lease contract,” Gandhi said.
This is because if a tenant continues to occupy a leased premises after the expiry of the contract, the contract would automatically renew for one year, or for the term of the lease contract, if it is less than one year.
What is the penalty of terminating a lease contract early? Read our guide here.