His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, issued a new tenancy law for the emirate regulating landlord-tenant relations for both residential and commercial properties.

The new law prevents landlords from increasing rent within three years from the first signing of the tenancy contract, then two years for any additional increase.

The law stipulates that any tenancy agreement should be in written form and should be authenticated by the municipality or the competent authorities with payment of a fixed fee. The contract should specify the exact address of the property.

Landlords should guarantee that the property is given on rent as per the specifications mentioned in the contract and in case any amenities found lacking, the tenant has the right to claim its addition or maintenance.

The landlord has no right to ask the tenant to vacate the property before the expiry of a period of three years from the first signing of the contract, unless the tenant is refusing to pay the rent.

If the landlord refuses to receive rent from the tenant, the latter can deposit it with the Municipality or the special tribunal set up to try the disputes.

The law also defines situations whereby a landlord can ask the tenant to leave the property and this includes maintenance of the property with a valid permission from the municipality. The landlord should also give a three-month notice period for the tenant to leave, in the permitted circumstances.

A landlord found to have given false reason to evacuate the tenant can face litigation so the tenant can retain the property until the expiry of the contract period.

The law also states that change of ownership of any property should not be a reason to change the tenancy contracts and subletting should be authenticated by an approval from the landlord.

The law calls for fast decisions in every case of dispute. A tribunal will be composed with a judge appointed by the Minister of Justice and two experts. Decisions issued by the tribunal will be binding but can be challenged before an Appeal Tribunal.