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Can Abu Dhabi tenant terminate lease due to mould?

We have a serious mould issue in our apartment and it is affecting my wife’s health. We’ve been in contact with property management but so far they have just been cleaning the visible areas and not removing the mould that is behind and possibly in the porous kitchen wood cabinetry. Every time they clean, it comes back. Do we have any recourse to get this properly fixed? Can we demand they move us to a different apartment or can we terminate our lease? RR, Abu Dhabi

As a tenant, it is your right – in exchange of paying rent – to quiet enjoyment of the property. It is evident from what you are saying that this enjoyment is being ruined by this mould problem. It is the landlord’s responsibility to sort this out. If, as you say, he has a management company looking after his property affairs, it will have to find a solution especially if the mould is affecting your wife’s health. In terms of whether you have a recourse as stated, yes you should be able to move to another apartment; this obviously depends whether the landlord owns another suitable property. But given how you posed the question, I assume the landlord does have alternative accommodation. This being the case, then you can request he moves you while the problem is eradicated. Can you terminate the contract? Again, if the problem persists and your family’s health is at stake, I would say that this is good grounds to terminate and the landlord should return any unused rental amount, including your deposit. Like everything in property negotiations between landlord and tenant, it’s all about reaching a compromise. I suggest you liaise with the property management company and come up with a plan that if the problem is not resolved to your satisfaction you are requesting relocation.

I purchased a commercial suite/unit on Reem Island Abu Dhabi and recently paid the last instalment to take possession. The agent, on behalf of the developer, has asked for a Dh1,500 no objection certificate (NOC) fee as part of the handover. Nowhere in the purchase agreement does it give them the right to levy this fee. What options do I have to complain about this? PB, Abu Dhabi

I assume that the NOC is needed to ensure that all the dues are paid by yourself before the developer relinquishes the unit to you. You are right, however, to question this charge as presumably the handover would not be completed unless everything was paid up by yourself. Each developer acts differently to the next, and handover procedures can also differ from one to the other.

While Dh1,500 is not a huge sum, I agree that if it is not part of the original sales and purchase sales agreement, then why is it now being brought up? I would request a meeting with the developer to explain why this is necessary and why it would fall on your shoulders to pay, especially as the developer is handing the unit directly over to you.

I have rented an apartment in Dubai Silicon Oasis. However, when I moved in, Dewa informed me there are previous dues which I had to pay to get their services. After checking with the agent I paid the bill, but the landlord has not reimbursed the funds yet. And now it’s time for renewal. I would like the money I am owed to be adjusted towards the new contract. However, the agent has informed me he is charging a renewal fee and therefore the money I am owed is adjusted against that renewal fee. He adds that if I don’t agree he will not renew the contract. How do I proceed? AA, Dubai

It would appear normal for you to be reimbursed by the landlord for the amount you paid for the original Dewa bill, and I guess a good time for this to be concluded would be at renewal as money does have to change hands at this point. This amount needs to be discharged by the owner. It is normal for agents to charge renewal fees as there is a level of administrative work involved including time and effort. As agents do not work for free, a fee of Dh1,000 to Dh1,500 is normally acceptable.

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 mario@oceanviewdubai.com.

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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