Dubai: Residents in the UAE often complain about massive deductions on their security deposits by landlords or real estate agents when they vacate houses. These complaints are rampant these days as a lot of tenants are opting to move so as to get better rent bargains in other areas.
A landlord takes a security deposit cheque from every new tenant to cover the cost of any wear and tear in the house. The landlord normally charges a tenant at his will to cover any wear and tear in a house when a tenant chooses to vacate the house.
Unfortunately, there are no set rules and regulations to determine the cost of wear and tear. It is solely up to the landlord to charge a tenant on any damages to his property.
However, a tenant can protect his rights buy following certain guidelines to claim the full amount of his security cheque at the time of vacating a house.
Expert advice: Take photos
Lewis Allsopp, Chief Executive Officer of Allsopp & Allsopp, a British-owned estate agent in Dubai, said that the security deposits can often be a tricky subject for both a landlord and a tenant which is why a check-in and check-out report should be carried out by the landlord, ideally with the tenant present.
A check-in report consists of a thorough look over all fittings and fixtures of the property including photographic evidence at the time of renting a house.
The report should then be signed by the landlord and tenant. Once the tenancy contract comes to an end, the check-out report will be conducted by the landlord with the check-in report as reference.
“So long as there is only minor wear and tear to the property the full deposit will be given back to the tenant. The reports give both the landlord and tenant peace of mind and evidence to any discrepancies that may arise,” he added.
Carefully read tenancy contract
The full deposit should be returned to the tenant at the end of the tenancy contract if the premises has been left in satisfactory condition and in coherence with the tenancy contract.
A leading real estate agent advised tenants to read the contract property to avoid any confusion as most of the things related to security despite claims are mentioned in the contract.
There is no law on commissions and deposits, it is a market norm. Most contracts mention that the flat should be vacated in ‘same’ condition. Some contracts mention that the vacating tenants should repair any damage that is beyond normal wear and tear, while some other contracts just require the tenants to repaint the unit.
This is why, it is important for tenants to read the contracts thoroughly.
However, if a dispute arises between a tenant and landlord on security deposit cheque, the tenants can take up the matter with the Rental Dispute Centre at Rera and register a case.
What a tenant should do
- Read your contract carefully before signing
- Make sure the clauses regarding security deposits and maintenance are clear
- Ask the landlords to clearly define ‘wear and tear’
- Upon taking possession, take note of the apartment’s condition and notify the landlord if something is damaged
- During renewal of the contract, ensure the clauses have not been changed
What are landlord’s responsibilities
The landlord’s property should be a safe environment for a tenant. This means that all doors and windows should lock securely, and fire alarms should be installed and fully equipped in essential areas of the home.
It is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that the property is clean and tidy before the arrival of a tenant. Usually in a tenancy contract it states that full painting and cleaning is down to the previous tenant but before the new tenant is ready to move-in, it is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure the property is in perfect condition.
As far as maintenance goes, as a rule of thumb, the landlord is responsible for maintenance above Dh500. Small wear and tear maintenance should be repaired and paid for by the tenant as well as any damages caused by misuse by the tenant. Landlords are responsible for major maintenance including electrical, mechanical, plumbing and air-conditioning when required.
Keep a record
It also pays to keep good records of everything from the moment you moved in, to repairs carried out during your tenancy, any personal costs incurred and finally what has been done upon moving out.
Repaint the walls
Reasonable wear and tear are permissible. However, it may be advisable to repaint the walls before vacating the property. It is less expensive to repaint them yourself than to have the landlord do so and deduct the fees from your security deposit.
If the tenant is leaving an unfurnished property, all furniture needs to be removed, otherwise, the landlord will deduct the removal costs from the security deposit.
Clear your bills
It’s important to disconnect all utility lines and clear the bills including electricity and telephone connections. Failure to do so could land you with larger bills.
What the law says:
Article 20 of the Law No. 26 of 2007 regulating the relationship between landlords and tenants in the Emirate of Dubai (the ‘Rental Law’) states: “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.”
But the law does not specify any details about deduction of amount by a landlord on any specific wear and tear or damage to a property caused by the tenant.