mould infestation
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Dubai: If poor maintenance of a residential unit is making the apartment uninhabitable, can you as a tenant leave without paying early termination charges? What are your rights as per the rental laws of the UAE? A Gulf News reader wrote in asking this question.

She said: “We are a Filipino couple renting a studio apartment for eight months now. Since we took over the apartment, we have faced non-stop maintenance issues and the worst part is the severe mould infestation all over the place that has already affected our personal belongings in these months. We requested the real estate broker to inform the landlord that we want to vacate the apartment since the mould problem could not be solved and the monthly repairs have severely affected us. The broker responded that as advised by the landlord, we could leave the apartment anytime but we would have to pay the early termination charges. We already suffered living in a dirty house as the wall paint keeps getting scraped off and we have to regularly repaint the walls, with no success. Is it lawful for the landlord or broker to demand payment from us given that the condition of the apartment is very bad? Should we raise the issue with the Dubai Land Department?”

Early termination

Dubai’s Rental Law No. 26 of 2007 regulates the relationship between landlords and tenants in the emirate of Dubai. As per Article 7 of this law, neither party can terminate the contract before the end of the tenancy period, unless the two agree to the early termination or due to any legal reasons, in accordance with the provisions of the law. However, what happens in case the lack of maintenance makes it difficult for the tenant to stay in the unit?

Gulf News raised the issue with Aditi Gandhi, who is a Dubai-based legal adviser, who highlighted what the law says about regular maintenance work in a rented residential unit.

“Article 16 of Law No. 26 of 2007, Regulating Relationship between the Landlord and Tenants in Dubai, stipulates that, unless agreed otherwise, the landlord is responsible for the maintenance works and repairs of any damage and defect to the rental premises during the term of the lease. The tenant has a right to approach the Rental Disputes Centre (RDC) Dubai to file a complaint on these grounds and file the necessary and relevant evidence,” she said.

Article 16 of Law No. 26 of 2007
“Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the Landlord will, during the term of the Lease Contract, be responsible for the Real Property’ maintenance works and for repairing any defect or damage that may affect the Tenant’s intended use of the Real Property.”

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How to file a complaint?

In case the tenant and landlord try to negotiate but an amicable settlement cannot be reached, the tenant can file a case with rental dispute settlement centres, which 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 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 electricity 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 (approximately 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

Abu Dhabi Rent Dispute Settlement Committee

Defence Street

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

How long will the process take?

Once you file a dispute, the length of the case may vary, depending on the complexity. However, the case could even be settled in the first session.