Ras Al Khaimah tenant and landlord disagree on rent cap

We have a tenant in our property in Ras Al Khaimah while we live in Dubai. She has been there for two years paying monthly rent as she could not afford the full 12 months. Some of her rent cheques have bounced and we have been very flexible with her. The rent is Dh70,000 per year. We have now told her that most rents are at about Dh90,000 and we need to increase the rent. She said that there is a new law in the emirate that rents cannot be increased for a three-year period. Is this true? We have given her three months notice, before the end of the lease, so if she is unwilling to pay the increase, can we get her to leave? As cheques have bounced, can we use this as a breach of contract? FS, Dubai

In 2008 the RAK government issued a decree that set rental caps of 5 per cent for residential and 7 per cent for commercial properties. Residential landlords can increase the rent only after three years of tenancy and commercial landlords only after two years. In your case, you will be able to raise the rent next year only and then for a maximum of 5 per cent. The same decree does permit landlords to evict their tenants if they fail to pay the rent within 10 days of the due date. If your tenant has therefore not paid rent due to bounced cheques then, if this is not rectified within this specified period, you are at liberty to start eviction proceedings.

Just under a year ago I moved out of my property as the landlord served with me an eviction notice saying he needed it for personal use. I have since found out that he has rented the property again, though I don’t have any official documentation to prove this. How I can present my case to the court and will the court then check if there is a new Ejari and Dewa bill registered under the name of the new tenant? MH, Dubai

You can file a case (all documentation has to be in Arabic) at the rental committee at the Lands Department in Deira, this will cost 3.5 per cent of the rental amount. Your landlord is not allowed to relet the property for two years from the date of your eviction. The reason for your eviction is also important as this has a bearing on the outcome from any later complaint brought by you. The rental committee can ascertain who is residing at the property but it would be helpful to your case to get some proof that the property has been relet.

I gave my tenant three months notice to vacate my apartment as I need to move in. The tenant refused as he says he cannot get another apartment at the same price and that an eviction notice is required 12 months in advance. I want to send the notice through the proper channels, but what if my job is terminated or for some genuine reason I had to leave UAE after few months of serving the eviction notice? Can I rent to another prospective tenant once the existing tenant vacates? What if I give notice to vacate as I want to sell and then I don’t receive the asking price? AS, Dubai

If you are requesting eviction of your tenant for the reason of using the property yourself, and then decide not to move in, you legally cannot relet the property to someone else for a period of two years. If you lose your job or your circumstances change, your only recourse would be to re-offer the property to your existing tenant. If he no longer wishes to live there, then you would be able to relet it only by getting a no-objection letter from your tenant saying he does not mind you letting it to someone else. If the 12- months notice has not expired and your tenant is still living in the property, then I’m sure he would be happy to stay on but any rental increases would be subject to confirmation from the Rera rental calculator. If you decide to give the notice for reason of selling and then do not actually sell, again as stated you cannot relet your property for a period of two years. Therefore think carefully what the real reason is for you wanting to give the notice as the law would appear to be in favour of tenants, for example you cannot evict a tenant just to relet the property for a higher rent to someone else.

Mario Volpi has worked in the real estate industry in Dubai and in London for the past 30 years. Send any questions to mariovolpi@aol.com. The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only.

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