Dubai: Whether you are moving in to a new house or moving out of your old apartment, tenants in Dubai need to make sure they fulfil all the obligations that they are legally required to, as per the Emirate’s rental law.
Dubai’s rental law - Law No. (26) of 2007 regulating the relationship between landlords and tenants in the Emirate of Dubai – provides specific guidelines that need to be followed by both landlords and tenants. When it comes to the responsibilities of tenants, these are the six main rules that you need to adhere to:
1. Pay rent on due date, ensure you maintain the property
Every tenant must pay their rent on time, as per the amount and date stated in the rental contract.
The tenant should also maintain the property while renting it and not make any changes or renovations without the permission of the landlord. Also, if you do plan to carry out any renovation work, you need to ensure that it is done by professionals. This is because if a renovation project leads to the property getting damaged, or the original structure and design of the property getting affected, the landlord is allowed to evict the tenant without a ‘statutory notice period’ – which means immediate eviction.
The tenant must pay the rent on due dates and maintain the Real Property in such a manner as an ordinary person would maintain his own property. Without prejudice to the tenant’s obligation to carry out the restorations that have been agreed upon or which are customary for tenants to undertake, the tenant may not make any changes or carry out any restoration or maintenance works to the Real Property unless so permitted by the landlord and after obtaining required licences from the competent official entities.
2. Pay a security deposit
Tenants are required to pay a security deposit when they enter a lease contract. However, this deposit is refundable and landlords are also required to provide a refund of the deposit, once the rental contract has expired, as per the rental law.
When entering into a lease contract, the landlord may obtain from the tenant a security deposit to ensure maintenance of the real property upon the expiry of the lease contract, provided that the landlord undertakes to refund such deposit or remainder thereof to the tenant upon the expiry of the lease contract.
If you are in a situation where your landlord is refusing or delaying the return of your security deposit, you have the right to seek legal action. You can file a ‘Writ of Payment’, which is a petition filed with the Dubai Land Department. To find out how you can file this petition, read our guide here.
3. Hand over the property to the landlord in the same condition that it was received
When a tenant is handing over the property to the landlord, it has to be in the same condition as it was in when they entered the contract. However, exceptions are made for occasional wear and tear and rare circumstances. However, the landlord should specify what is considered as ‘regular wear and tear’ in the rental contract .
Upon the expiry of the term of the lease contract, the tenant must surrender possession of the real property to the landlord in the same condition in which the tenant received it at the time of entering into the lease contract except for ordinary wear and tear or for damage due to reasons beyond the tenant’s control. In the event of dispute between the two parties, the matter must be referred to the tribunal to issue an award in this regard.
4. Pay any fees or taxes to government departments
On top of making rental payments, tenants in Dubai also have to pay government-related taxes and dues as stated in their contract.
Unless the lease contract states otherwise, the tenant must pay all fees and taxes due to government entities and departments for use of the real property as well as any fees or taxes prescribed for any sub-lease.
An example of a government fees tenants have to pay in Dubai is the housing fee. A housing fee is imposed by Dubai Municipality and is equivalent to five per cent of the rent as per the rent contract. It is mentioned in every electricity bill you receive from Dewa. To know more about how you can read your utility bill, read our guide here.
5. Do not remove any alterations when you are handing over the property.
When tenants vacate the property, they should not remove any alterations made to the rental premises, even if the alteration was made by them. Article 23 of Dubai’s Rental Law states: “Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, upon vacating and surrendering possession of the real property, the tenant may not remove any leasehold improvements made by the tenant.”
The ‘leasehold improvement’ mentioned in this article refers to any kind of renovation or alteration done on the property while it was being leased and improves the property’s condition, according to Imran Khan, advocate and legal Consultant at Bin Eid Advocates.
“This [Article] suggests that the changes in the design and construction of the property should not be removed by the tenant at the time of vacating the property, even if modifications are done by the tenant with the the permission of the landlord,” he said.
6. Do not sub-let the property without the landlord’s approval
If a tenant plans to rent a spare room in their apartment or to rent out the entire unit to someone else, they cannot do so without the landlord’s written consent.
Unless otherwise agreed by the parties to the lease contract, the tenant may not assign the use of or sub-lease the real property to third parties unless written consent of the landlord is obtained.
If you do get written consent from your landlord to sublet the apartment, it is also important to ensure that you do not make any changes to the residential unit, without the approval of the landlord. Even if you are subletting the property as a short term vacation rental, you still need a No Objection letter from your landlord.
Failing to follow these rules will not only make it hard for you to have a professional relationship with your landlord, but can also lead to eviction. To know more about the specific violations that can lead to immediate eviction of a tenant, read our detailed guide here.