Terms of Abu Dhabi rental contract have to be stated in writing

When I moved into my apartment in Abu Dhabi I knew I would only be there for six months. I paid a full year but was told by a woman representing my landlord if I gave one month’s notice (in the fifth month), then they will take an additional month as payment but refund me the other five months. In the fifth month I called them and we made the same agreement. Two weeks ago I shifted out of the apartment, and, as requested, left the door unlocked so they could start showing the place. However, they said it would take a week to get me the money. When I called a week later, they said it would take another week. Now they aren’t answering my calls. What options do I have? Are they legally required to return the money? Are verbal agreements defensible in Abu Dhabi? SL, Abu Dhabi

In the eyes of the law, you have taken out a rental contract for 12 months. Unfortunately having a verbal agreement that allows you to vacate early with the promise of your unused rental monies returned by the landlord will sadly not hold water. The only way you can terminate a contract early is if there is a specific clause in the contract that allows for this or if your landlord agrees to it in writing.

Given that you do have at least a verbal agreement, I suggest you continue your line of communication but perhaps escalate this through personal contact by going to see the landlord face to face. If he is not returning your calls, what else are you supposed to do? From a legal standpoint, you do run the risk of losing the rest of your money as you do not have proof of this agreement.

It’s that time of the year again. My landlord and I have agreed to renew, however he has insisted on a new term in the contract. I previously paid my rent in four cheques, but now he wants one. Is this legal? I know I have the right to renew my lease on the same terms as before, but does this include the instalments? AJ, Dubai

Changes to the rental contract have to be communicated by either party 90 days prior to the expiration of the tenancy agreement, and even then there has to be an agreement to the changes between the parties. There cannot be a unilateral change without prior consent. If you now cannot afford to pay the rent in one cheque, this needs to be communicated to the landlord. He cannot enforce this change without your say. On the issue of raising the rent, that is subject to what the Rera rental calculator says; it is not as you put it, your right to it remaining the same.

I am looking at buying an apartment in Abu Dhabi Raha Beach area for my personal use. The apartment is currently occupied by a young couple and, based on the real estate agent, the agreement is expiring on September 30. If the couple decides to renew their agreement before the deadline – for an additional year from October 1 to October 1 2016 – and I become the owner only after they have renewed, what are the legal steps to evict them? And what is the notice period: two months or 12 months? MB, Abu Dhabi

It is a shame that the seller (previous landlord) did not give the current tenant the required notice that the contract would not be renewed. Assuming the tenants do wish to renew and the fact that we are so close to the renewal date, your options are that you will have to enter into another year’s tenancy agreement with them, under the same terms and conditions as before.

Two months prior to the expiration of this new lease agreement (August 1 2016), you must put in writing that you do not wish to further renew the contract so the tenants will have to vacate at the end of the lease (ie, October 2016).

Mario Volpi works at Asteco property management and has more than 30 years of experience in the real estate industry in Dubai and London. Send any questions to mariov@asteco.com.

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only.

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Mario Volpi

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