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Abu Dhabi tenant ordered to pay rent increase or the penalty for vacating

I reside in Abu Dhabi and the developer that manages my property sent an email with regards to an increase in rent, which was not received by the company I work for. They insist an email was sent. I have been following up and chasing them. Finally I got hold of someone who informed me of the increase, which I declined. I was then told that I was at fault and would have to accept the increase or pay the penalty for vacating the premises. Is there a law that states when a landlord should increase rent or a registered letter that needs to be sent and signed for to say it has been received by the tenant? LB, Abu Dhabi

An Abu Dhabi landlord has a window of 60 days to inform a tenant of any changes to the contract and this of course would include a rental increase. If the landlord misses the 60-day window then no increase is allowed. As far as the means of communication is concerned, there is no notarisation required so a written notice either sent by courier or registered mail, while preferable, is not mandatory. Electronic communication is also allowed, so email would be permissible too. As Abu Dhabi scrapped the rental cap last year, landlords can now effectively ask whatever rent they choose.

My landlord contacted me 72 days before the contract renewal date on August 30 and asked for a 20 per cent increase in rent. I checked the Rera calculator and according to this I am paying the correct amount and am not due for an increase. My landlord then sent me an email stating he wants me to move out as he wishes to move in himself, can you please advise where I stand on this? JS, Dubai

Firstly, if your landlord has contacted you 72 days before the contract renewal date, he has missed the 90-day window and therefore is not entitled to any increase in rent. You mention that the rent calculator also confirms that you are still paying the correct rent, so this is another reason for no increase. Your landlord is perfectly entitled to evict you from the property because he wishes to move in himself. He must, however, prove that he does not have another suitable alternative property to move to. Remember, being told of an eviction by email is not the proper way of being informed. As per law 33 of 2008 he must send the 12-months notification to evict by public notary or registered mail.

Secondly, you may like to remind your landlord that if you do vacate after the 12 months’ notice period and he then does not actually move in but relets the property to another tenant, this is against the law and you would be entitled to compensation after filing a case at the rent committee.

I have been living in my apartment in Dubai for almost two years and the contract is due for renewal on September 3. I understand that my landlord needs to give me 90-days notice of any increase and as this has now passed, I am assuming he will not be able to increase my rent on renewal of contract. Am I obligated at any point to say that I want to renew the contract prior to the renewal date? If I do not contact him to state this, will it be assumed that this is the case? AS, Dubai

Both parties need to inform one another of any changes to the contract 90 days before the expiration of the tenancy agreement. In this instance, if you are not altering the contract in any way then there is no obligation on your part to contact the landlord as you will want to renew on the same terms as before. The law states that if the landlord does not inform the tenant giving 90 days’ notice then he or she is not entitled to any changes, which would obviously include the rent.

Mario Volpi is the managing director of Prestige Real Estate in Dubai (prestigedubai.com). He has 30 years of property industry experience in the emirate and London. Send any questions to mario@prestigedubai.com

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Readers are encouraged to seek appropriate independent legal advice

Please note that Mario Volpi is now on holiday and cannot answer any questions until his return on August 20 2014

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