Dubai landlady refuses to return Dh129,000 security cheque despite rent already being paid

I live in JLT and my landlady asked me to provide a security cheque for the total rental value of Dh129,000. She also told me she will return the cheque once the annual rent, paid by my company, had transacted into her account by the deadline. This clause is written in our contract agreement in the same words. The company paid the complete annual rent one week before the desired date, but when I went to collect the cheque from her, she said she is keeping it as security for Dewa bills. She already has Dh10,000 as a security deposit from me, so is she allowed to keep the rental security cheque for another purpose? What action should I take? I am so puzzled by this strange behaviour. AS, Dubai

The security deposit is held by the landlord in the case of any remedial works that need to be carried out due to the fault of the tenant or indeed any shortfalls in invoices/bills incurred by the tenant such as Dewa etc. What your landlady is doing by not returning your rental cheque is not allowed and I suggest you inform her of this. If she insists on not returning your rent cheque, then your options are fairly limited. This case is intriguing as technically the landlady has not committed any crime (yet) as she has not cashed your cheque or indeed stolen it, as you gave it to her in the first place, so at this point you cannot go to the police to open a case. What I do suggest is you speak to Rera/rent committee and see if they can help in perhaps sending a notification to her to return your cheque. I am sure that they will suggest you file a case before taking it further. Ultimately she has to return the cheque to you as she is holding it under false pretences.

I am looking to invest in Dubai and have two offers from two developers. However, I am confused as to which is the best. The first is a 575 square foot studio in Elite 10 sports residence for Dh508,000 with a completion date of June 2017. The second is a 565 sq ft studio in Eden Garden for Dh435,000 with a completion date of June 2016. Which one should I choose, and do you think Elite 10 deserves the higher price? IM, Dubai

Obviously which project to go for is a personal choice and one that only you can readily make. I am happy, however, to give my opinion and recommendation. The construction company that is building Eden Garden has completed other projects, namely the Méridien Hotel, and is currently finishing the Sports City project along with one other in International City. The developers of the Elite 10, however, have a greater history of completed towers specifically in Sports City and therefore are well placed to deliver this. Speaking about preferences, I believe that although the Elite is a little more expensive than the Eden Garden, I would suggest that thanks to the good build design, quality and popularity of their towers, I would pay a little more and choose the Elite. I stress that this is my pure preference and only based on past developer performance in terms of the number of completed projects and knowledge of the market.

I am currently negotiating with my Abu Dhabi tenant for his second year and he was asking how much of a penalty he has to pay if he leaves the contract early. As far as I am aware Abu Dhabi law says that he is liable for the full amount and so it would be at my discretion as to if and how much of the rent is returned. Is that right? MA, Abu Dhabi

The tenant can only terminate the lease early in one of two ways: firstly if there is a termination clause in the contract or with the agreement of the landlord, otherwise the tenant will not be able to terminate the lease and will be liable for the rent until the lease ends.

Many landlords, however, will allow tenants to terminate early (for a penalty fee) if the tenant finds someone to replace them. You therefore have the right to decide as to how to play this as your understanding is correct.

Mario Volpi is the managing director of Ocean View Real Estate and has worked in the industry in the emirate and in London for the past 30 years. Send any questions to

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

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