Dubai: Renting a flat or villa to live in is the default option for many UAE residents – when you come to the Emirates, one of the first steps a new resident takes is finding a place to stay, and for many people that means renting a house. But how many of us are really aware of the tenancy rules and regulations in Dubai?
If you are planning to rent a property in Dubai, here are nine things you should keep in mind:
1. Rent about to be increased? You should have received a notice three months in advance
Is your contract nearing its renewal? If so, your landlord is legally required to inform you 90 days in advance if the rent is going to be increased. This is stipulated in Article 6 and 14 of ‘Dubai Law No. 26 of 2007 Regulating Relations between the landlord and tenant in the Emirate of Dubai’ or the Dubai Rent Law.
2. The rent increase cannot be beyond a certain limit
Even if your landlord does decide to increase the rent, he or she cannot do it beyond a limit set by the Dubai Land Department (DLD). The rate of increase is determined by how low your rent is compared to the average rent for your unit in the area that you live in. According to DLD, this is how much a landlord can increase the rates
• If the current rent of a unit is 21 to 30 per cent less than the average rental value of similar units, the rent may be increased by a maximum of 10 per cent, at the time of renewal.
• If the rent of the real property unit is 31 to 40 per cent less than the average rental value of similar units, then the landlord may increase the rent maximum by 15 per cent of the rent of the real property unit;
• If the rent of the real property unit is less than the average rental value of similar units by more than 40 per cent, then the landlord may increase the rent maximum by 20 per cent of the rent of the real property unit.
The online Rental Index by DLD is a helpful tool for tenants to figure out if the landlord’s increase in the rent of the apartment or villa is within these limits.
3. Your landlord cannot cut off electricity and water supply over unpaid rent
Not making your rent payment can lead to serious consequences, including eviction. However, it is illegal for your landlord to cut off the electricity and water supply to the residential unit. This is clearly stated in the Dubai rent law and if the landlord does violate the law, the tenant is entitled to file a ‘petition order’ with the Rental Dispute Centre to request the landlord to resume the utilities service. Once a petition order is filed, a judge will issue a decision in 24 hours. To find out how you can file such a petition order, read our guide here.
4. Eviction notices need to be given 12 months in advance in these cases
A landlord is legally required to issue a 12-month notice for these two types of eviction cases – eviction due to restoration or comprehensive maintenance and eviction due to demolition.
5. Subletting without approval can get you evicted
There are instances where a landlord is legally allowed to evict a tenant, as per the Dubai Rent Law. These include when the tenant fails to pay rent within 30 days from the date a notice is served to him or her, when a tenant uses the property for any illegal purposes or a purpose which breaches public order or morals and in case the tenant sublets the property without obtaining the landlord’s approval. For a detailed list of actions that can lead to the immediate eviction of a tenant, read our guide here.
6. Moving to a new area? You can research the average rental prices in the neighbourhood
If you are moving into an apartment or villa, and want to know if the deal you got was reasonable, you can check the previous rents that were charged for the same property through a new platform – DXBinteract.com, which provides data on property transactions from Dubai Land Department. Read more here.
7. Your tenancy contract is different from your Ejari
While the two may be used synonymously, the tenancy contract is simply your signed agreement with your landlord, while Ejari is the process of registering this agreement with the Dubai Land Department. To register through Ejari you must have the following details: name of the Rental Company or details of the landlord such as his or her passport copy, and terms of the agreement. The cost for the registration is also paid by the tenant.
8. Dispute with your landlord? File an official case with the Rental Dispute Settlement Centre
If there is any issue arising between the tenant and landlord, you can file an official case with Rental Dispute Settlement Centre (RDSC), which oversees all rent-related lawsuits in the Emirate. RDSC tries to resolve the dispute through an amicable settlement between both the parties and the process takes 15 days. For an in-depth guide on the process that is followed to settle rental disputes, click here.
9. Being asked to give ‘key money’? Say no.
When you are about to close a deal on a new home lease, you may be asked by your real estate agent to pay an amount as a security deposit, to show your seriousness as a buyer. This is often referred to as key money. However, as reported by Gulf News earlier such a practice is not regulated by any law. So, it is not legal to ask for key money either by landlords, developers or brokers.