The mobility restrictions and unprecedented measures to curb COVID-19 has brought about many unforeseen challenges for residents of the UAE. A lot of us are facing financial difficulties and need guidance on how to negotiate for lower rents with landlords, or, how to deal with evictions.

To help our members navigate through this difficult time, Bayut got in touch with Mark Richards, Head of Leasing and Property Management at Espace Real Estate, to answer the most frequently asked questions on our group, about dealing with lease agreements in Dubai, during the current situation.

What options do tenants have to help ease the financial burden under the current circumstances?

The best way a tenant can ease the financial burden on them during the current situation is to approach the landlord and negotiate a deal,” says Mark.

If a tenant is facing financial hardship and is unable to pay the rent, the first step would be to approach the landlord, inform them about the predicament and attempt to negotiate a deal that’s mutually agreeable between both parties. Tenants can negotiate for rent reductions or rent-free periods. Providing supporting documents such as a copy of the termination letter/pay cuts issued by the tenant’s employer can help substantiate the request with the landlord.

If all forms of communication are exhausted and the landlord is unwilling to negotiate, the tenant can request for early termination of the tenancy contract without penalties and try to find more affordable, short term rentals through Bayut.

If moving out is not a viable option, the tenant, as a last resort can contact the Rental Disputes Center (RDC) on 800 4488 and request for advice or file a complaint against the landlord.

It’s important for tenants to keep in mind that filing a rental dispute case in Dubai is a lengthy process. Mark advises tenants to evaluate all other options before opting to file a rental dispute case.

Is there a way to lower rent or get it evaluated to match the market rates?

Tenants who wish to negotiate lower rents should first identify the average market rate landlords are charging for similar properties in the area where the tenant resides. Mark mentions that browsing through property listings on Bayut is a great way to find out the approximate average rents that are charged for any area in Dubai.

The RERA Rental Increase Calculator can also be used to evaluate the average rental prices in the market, however, tenants should note that this tool is intended to determine the maximum rent increase a landlord can charge, during the renewal of tenancy contracts.

After evaluating the average rents, if the tenant wishes to request a reduction of rents from the landlord, the tenant can approach the landlord and work out a deal that works for both parties.

What option does a tenant have if their landlord is forcing them to evict at the end of the contract?

According to the tenancy law in Dubai, a landlord may demand eviction at the end of the contract if the landlord wishes to reconstruct or demolish the property; the property requires comprehensive maintenance or renovation; or if development requirements necessitate reconstruction or demolition of the property.

The landlord can also evict the tenant at the end of the contract if the landlord wants to sell the property, utilise it for his personal use or for his/her relatives of the first degree. In such instances, the landlord must provide the tenant with a 12-month written notice through registered mail or public notary.

In cases where the tenant is facing unlawful eviction by their landlord prior to the end of the contract, without the notice, the tenant may first approach the landlord and try to negotiate the issue. If the tenant is unable to come to a resolution with the landlord, the tenant has the right to file a complaint against the landlord at the RDC.

How can tenants avoid penalties related to the early termination of a tenancy contract?

The outcome of terminating a lease early is dependent on the early termination clause written into the tenancy contract. If tenants have such a provision in their rental contract, they will have to adhere to that clause when ending a tenancy agreement early in Dubai.

Mark says if a tenant is unable to pay the penalty due to the current situation, the tenant can personally approach the landlord and request to terminate the tenancy contract without penalties by providing proof to substantiate the claim.

If the landlord does not agree with the tenant’s request, the tenant may approach the Rental Dispute Centre in Dubai and file a complaint against the landlord for not agreeing to the early termination of your tenancy contract without payment of any penalty.

When leasing a new contract, are there any fine-print stipulations tenants should look out for?

Mark mentions that evaluating the early termination clauses and the penalty value associated with it is essential when signing a new lease. He explains that RERA hasn’t fixed a certain value for early termination of a lease agreement. This means a tenant can negotiate the early termination fees to a lower value before signing the agreement.

He also mentioned that the clauses that pertain to maintenance obligations should also be evaluated carefully. This can help avoid unwanted confusions in the future.

Can a tenant negotiate for a shorter lease agreement?

If both the tenant and landlord agree, a tenancy agreement can be amended into a shorter lease. In this case, if either party to the tenancy contract wishes to amend any of its terms in accordance with the law, that party must notify the other party of the same no less than 90 days prior to the date on which the contract expires.

Is it necessary to hire legal counsel if a tenant wishes to cancel the lease contract early?

When ending a tenancy agreement early it is not necessary to hire legal counsel. However, if the tenant wishes to do so, it is important to hire an experienced real estate lawyer who has experience handling cases related to tenancy agreements.

Do you have any other questions about renting that needs answering? Make sure to email our friends at Bayut on our dedicated email address, to get priority service as a member of British Mums Dubai.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are based on the experience of the expert and research based on the current law. We advise contacting the RDC on 800 4488 before making any decisions related to rental disputes.


Read more:

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The British Mums guide to top areas with affordable short term rentals in Dubai

Virtual Steps to find your new home from your home

Which Dubai Neighbourhood is perfect for your family?

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