In Dubai, the legal relationship between a Landlord and a Tenant is governed by Law No. 26 of 2007 and Law No. 33 of 2008 amending Law No. 26 of 2007 (together, the “Law”). Here we look at the ways in which a Landlord can take vacant possession of a property, either in the case of Tenant breach or on the expiry of the lease.
If a Tenant acts in breach of the lease, and that breach isn’t remedied after the Landlord notifying the Tenant, the Landlord may seek to evict the Tenant before the expiry of the Lease. But not every breach entitles the Landlord to evict a Tenant. That remedy is limited to the following circumstances:
• Where the Tenant fails to pay the rent (after the Landlord gives the Tenant 30-days notice)
• Where the Tenant sublets without the Landlord’s approval (in this case the Landlord may also evict the subtenant, who may then claim compensation from the Tenant)
• Where the Tenant uses the premises for illegal or immoral purposes
• Where the Tenant alters the premises, endangering the safety of those premises, and the premises cannot be restored to their original condition, or where the Tenant causes damage to the premises due to gross negligence
• Where the Tenant uses the premises for a purpose other than that intended under the Tenancy lease
• Where the premises are condemned (as per the Municipality); and/or
• Where the Tenant fails to comply with any obligation imposed by Law or any term of the lease (after the Landlord gives 30 days notice)
You will see that in some cases the Landlord is required to serve a notice. Where this is so, it’s important to adhere strictly to the correct service requirements. The notice must be in writing. It can then be served either (i) by the Landlord, using registered post, or (ii) by the Notary Public, using Aramex. Note that if the Landlord fails to serve the Tenant in one of these 2 ways, the Rental Disputes Centre may reject the case.
Expiry of the Lease
It’s important to note that the lease will not fall away just because it has expired (if that can make sense). In other words, it won’t come to an end just because the expiry date has arrived. The Law states that the Landlord may only require the Tenant to vacate at the expiry of the lease if he has given the Tenant 12 months’ notice, prior to the expiry of that lease. That notice must include a statement of the grounds for the Landlord taking back vacant possession, which must be one of the following:
• The premises are to be demolished (either because the Landlord wants to (and has the relevant permits), or as per a Government order)
• The premises require full renovation
• The Landlord or a first degree relative of the Landlord (parent, spouse or child) intendsto use the premises; or
• The Landlord wants to sell the premises
• If the notice is not served, the lease will renew on the same terms.
Procedure to file a rental dispute claim
In the case of a dispute regarding a lease, a case must be filed at the Rental Dispute Centre (“RDC”). For this purpose there are 2 options:
• File online via the RDC website
• File using a service provider such as Takhlees
You may represent yourself or instruct a lawyer or other representative to appear for you under a Power of Attorney. Either party may appeal a RDC decision within 15 days of that decision being issued.
The claimant must pay to the RDC a fee equal to 3.5% of the claimed amount, or 3.5% of the current rent in the case of evictions, along with an administrative fee.
Whilst leases are subject to their own terms and conditions, it’s important to note that the Law is overriding and its provisions must be adhered to in order for the parties to enforce their rights. In the next article, we will deal with circumstances where the tenant wants to remain in occupation, but the parties are not in agreement on the level