Seven Common Tenant’s Questions in Abu Dhabi
- 1. You are about to move in to a new Property. What are the Landlord’s obligations to prepare it?
If you’re renting residential property the law states that the Landlord needs to make it habitable, nothing more. There is no legal obligation on the Landlord to clean, repaint or pest-control the Property, but they often atleast repaint as a matter of good practise.
If the Property (or part of it) is uninhabitable, or becomes uninhabitable, then you can apply to the Rent Committee (see below) to refund or reduce the rent.
- 2. You have moved in. What are the Landlord’s obligations if something goes wrong?
The Law states that “The Landlord shall maintain the leasehold to keep it fit for use and carry out all necessary repairs excluding rental repairs during the rental period unless otherwise agreed”. “Rental repairs” are usually read as repairing damage to the fixtures and fittings in a Property (light fittings, cup-boards, wardrobes etc and may include any white goods provided with the Property), these repairs are the responsibility of the Tenant. The Landlord must repair structural deficiencies (plumbing, electrical, walls, roof etc).
If the Landlord fails to conduct repairs then you as the Tenant may carry out the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent, but you must ask the Rent Committee first (see below).
- 3. Can you house-share, sub-let to other people or can you assign the lease to another tenant?
The Tenant may not assign or sub-let the Property in whole or in part without the written permission of the Landlord.
If house-sharing tenants should consider Federal law No 1 of 2011. Under that law up to three unrelated people may occupy each room in an apartment or villa, however no more than six unrelated people in total may occupy a villa (there is no limit for apartments). Only one family unit may occupy an apartment or villa (not multiple families). Unrelated males and females may not live together.
- 4. When can the Landlord raise the rent, terminate the tenancy agreement or change any of the terms of the lease?
In the event that either party does not wish to renew the lease, or wishes to amend the conditions of the lease, that party shall notify the other party in writing two months prior to the date of the lease’s expiry in the case of residential properties. Your landlord must give you two months written notice to raise the rent or terminate the lease.
Tenants should make a note of when their lease is coming up for renewal. As soon as the two month period passes then the lease will automatically renew on the same terms. After this period the neither party can alter the terms of the tenancy agreement and the Landlord can’t refuse to renew the contract either.
During the lease neither side can renegotiate the terms of the tenancy agreement (raise or lower the rent etc.) without the permission of the other party.
- 5. You need to give two months’ notice before the end of the tenancy agreement to terminate it, but how can you terminate the tenancy agreement early?
You cannot terminate your lease whenever you like. You can only terminate the lease early i.e. before it expires, if a) if there is a termination clause in the tenancy agreement or b) with the agreement of the Landlord – otherwise you will not be able to terminate the lease and will be liable for the rent until the lease’s end. Many Landlords will allow tenants to terminate the tenancy agreement for a small penalty if the Tenant finds someone to replace them.
- 6. If your Landlord decides not to renew your contract what reasons must he give?
Your Landlord does not have to give any reason not to renew your lease. Before November 2013 the Landlord was obliged to renew leases unless they had good reason not to (i.e. they wanted to move in, demolish the unit ect) but now your Landlord doesn’t need a reason, he can just give you the required two months’ notice before the expiry of the lease agreement.
- 7. What happens if your landlord sells his property to another person?
The short answer is your position doesn’t change. Your lease will pass over to the new landlord upon purchase. The new landlord is bound by it as if he has signed it himself. To alter or terminate the tenancy agreement the new Landlord must still give the Tenant at least two months’ notice before the end of the tenancy agreement (see below).
- 8. Who do you turn to when looking to enforce your rights?
The Rent Dispute Settlement Committee (informally known as the Rent Committee) is located by the Marriage Fund in Al Nahyan Camp. The Tenancy Law established this body in 2005 to hear disputes between Tenants and Landlords. If the Landlord breaches his obligations and won’t remedy them then the Rent Committee should be your first port of call.
If you have any questions on this article please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben Crompton is an ex-lawyer and the Managing Partner of Crompton Partners Estate Agents LLC which has branches in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Call – +971 50 6145199