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Rent advice: Is a ‘non-renewable’ Dubai tenancy contract legal?

My landlord issued a new contract last week that states at the top of the page “one year - non-renewal” under the tenancy period. I have read this is not legal, but if I were to sign this contract then I am consenting to the agreement of non-renewable. I read another article that states that even if I sign it, “non-renewable” will not hold up in court at the end of the year when I want to renew. I have asked my landlord to send me a renewable contract and if he wants his son to move in, which he has stated via email, then to send me a separate legal notification stamped by public notary, as per Law 33 of 2008. But he will not. He keeps stating that it is his right to give me a renewable or non-renewable contract for the next year and that a “non-renewable” contract is the 12 months’ notice.

Should I sign this contract? KB, Dubai

You are right in all your points. A non-renewable contract is not recognised by the law, so it is up to you if you choose to sign it or not. The question of his son moving in is valid but also the landlord has to prove that he does not own another suitable alternative property for this purpose. For this to happen the landlord has to send you a notification via registered mail or a notarised letter confirming the same giving you no less than 12 months’ notice. Sending a notification via email is not the proper way to communicate this. He is either not aware of the law or he chooses to ignore it.

If you want to renew, he has to accept this unless he proceeds with his son moving in. Please note that he will not be able to rent out his property for a period of two years from the date of your eviction. If he does, you can open a case at the rent committee and claim compensation. The worst case scenario here will be that you do have to vacate if his son moves in but you will be entitled to remain in the property for at least another 12 months more.

Last year I signed a tenancy contract for a Dubai villa. The landlord failed to contact us within 60 days of the contract renewal and our belief was therefore that the contract automatically renews. The landlord then invited us to his house, “kindly” informing us that it was not his policy to increase rent after one year. However he did inform me that he wanted me to sign a new contract which duly arrived 12 days before the 12 month anniversary of the original. Having disputed some of the changes, I am now in a position where I was happy to sign the new agreement. I have asked the landlord for a meeting where we can both sign the agreement and I will hand over the cheque for 12 months rent. He has told me that it is not his policy to sign a contract prior to or at the time of rent payment. As he is in Germany on business, I must wire the money to his account and a signed contract will follow later. I am not willing to pay for a service that totals over four months of my salary without a legal document detailing what I am paying for and under what terms and conditions. When I informed the landlord of this, he hung the phone up on me. We have now passed the tenancy renewal date. The landlord is now informing me that unless I pay by Saturday, he will terminate our arrangement and evict me. Would I be putting myself at a big risk by making the payment prior to signature? BK, Dubai

I can understand your reluctance to pay for something without the proper paperwork given at the same time. You do however have rights as an existing tenant. I would confirm to the owner via email (if you cannot speak with him on the telephone) that you are ready to sign and pay your rent but his absence due to him being in Germany is preventing the procedure to take place. He will obviously return soon so negotiate this fact and organise to meet up when he is back.

If he insists that this is not acceptable, then given that you are his existing tenant will mean you should be fine sending the rent requested via bank transfer. I would however make sure that he

writes to you confirming that this is his request, this way you at least have written evidence of his wishes should things go awry. When he is back you can get the original contract signed.

Mario Volpi is the managing director of Prestige Real Estate in Dubai (prestigedubai.com). He has 30 years of property industry experience in the emirate and London. Send any questions to mario@prestigedubai.com

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