Dubai landlord unable to remove divorcing tenant abandoned by husband

I own an apartment in Dubai and have been renting it out to the same tenant for almost five years. At the end of latest tenancy agreement, which expired on November 30, I expressed my desire to personally move in to the apartment. As I wasn’t sure of my timeline and as he also needed sometime to sort out his stuff, we moved to signing several monthly contracts – the last one expired on April 30. We’ve agreed that he would move out end of April. However, I was surprised to receive a letter signed by him on April 23 saying he had vacated the flat and that I was free to move in on or before April 30. He sent me the flat keys and parking card alongside the letter. I then received a call from his wife saying that she and her husband (the tenant) are going through a divorce case in court and that her husband left her and her son and ran away. She refused to vacate the flat and said she has nowhere to go and no money to pay. I should mention that her husband cleared up everything before leaving. He requested a final DEWA bill and sent an email to the AC company asking them to disconnect the chiller by the end of April. I’m now stuck as no one is helping me vacate this lady. I went to the tenancy dispute centre, the police and notary services. They asked me to go to court and file a case against the husband during which the wife would remain in the apartment and pay me rent. AW, Dubai

Reading through your timeline, it struck me that you never officially sent a notification of eviction to the tenant when you decided you wanted to move in yourself. The agreement to vacate was just verbal and although you both had mutually agreed month-to-month extensions since the end of November, not having anything in writing may now cause you problems in getting possession of your property due to his domestic problems/situation.I assume the tenancy contract was just in the name of the husband so now that the wife wishes to stay could mean that you will have to start the process all over again, only this time legally (in writing) and now with her. To get possession back for reasons of moving in yourself, you will have to give her a 12-month notification to vacate sent via notary public or registered mail. A new tenancy agreement to cover the 12 months will also have to be drawn up. If this is not a route you wish to take, then your other option is indeed to take the tenant to court. This could be costly and will also take time to potentially gain vacant possession. Winning a case like this is also not guaranteed given the present occupants are a wife and child and victims of circumstance. I believe your best choice would be to organise the 12 months notice which, while this will take the year to conclude, it will show your compassion in not evicting the occupant straight away.

I am currently living in a two-bedroom apartment and the tenancy is due to expire in June 2016. In February I received notice from the landlord that the rent would be increased by 15 per cent. According to the RERA rent calculator, there should be no rent increase. I replied back stating that I am happy to renew as per RERA rules, to which they also affirmed. A week later the current landlord sent a notice from a lawyer (notarised) stating the intention to sell the unit and that I should vacate the apartment by June 2017. Today, I received a notice that my apartment has been sold and that I should contact the new Landlord. What are my options at this stage? Do I have a legal contract in place as of now? This is needed for visa purposes, so any delays from new landlord will result in a problem. Will I renew for one year from today or after the expiry of my initial contract in June. What if I do not wish to continue with the new landlord? Can I leave on the date as per my original contract without any notice as my landlord has changed? SF, Dubai

The law states that if a property is sold during a period when a tenant resides within it, the new landlord takes over the existing contract with all the same terms and conditions as before. It is advisable to meet the new landlord to ascertain what his intentions are with regards to the property. With reference to your renewal, this will be from the date of your original contract should you decide to stay. Remember that any changes to the contract have to be communicated in writing at least 90 days before the expiration of the agreement. Given this time frame has now passed, no changes therefore will be allowed on the contract.

Mario Volpi is a real estate professional who has worked within the industry for the past 31 years in London and Dubai. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and they do not reflect in any way those of the institutions to which he is affiliated. It does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Please send any questions to mariovolpi64@gmail.com

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