My rental agreement is due for renewal at the end of May and I have just received an email from my landlord saying that the rent will be increasing by Dh50,000 a year, which is an increase of more than 40 per cent. We cannot afford to pay this additional amount and my friend told me that the maximum increase is 20 per cent. We told him two months before renewal that we wanted to stay in the apartment, so we had assumed all was staying the same as we hadn’t heard anything different. Is he allowed to increase the rent by this much and what can we do so we can stay in our home? I suspect he is going to be difficult and insist on a high increase, so what protection do we have? SB, Dubai
In accordance with Article 14 of the original law regulating rental agreements, known as the “Law Regulating Relationship between Landlords and Tenants in the Emirate of Dubai No 26 of 2007”, a landlord must give 90 days’ notice before changing any terms of the rental agreement. If this period of notice is not given then the landlord is not permitted to increase the rent, or make any other changes, without the agreement of the tenant. Even if notice had been given in a timely manner, a landlord may not increase the rent by this kind of amount. The maximum increase in any year is 20 per cent, but the maximum per specific property is set out in the Rera calculator. This can be found at www.dubailand.gov.ae. This applies to all properties in the emirate of Dubai and tenants can enter their own details to find out the maximum legally permitted increase. Tenants need only give 60 days’ notice if they wish to end or renew the tenancy. If the landlord does not accept that there cannot be an increase, I suggest you quote the law to him, show him this column and if he is still being difficult you tell him that you will be referring him to the Rent Committee. This is the section of Dubai Land Department that arbitrates in rental disputes and they will uphold the law, so any landlord who does not treat tenants in accordance with the law will lose the case. Most landlords will back down at this point once they realise they are in the wrong, but if you are left with no option but to make a complaint to the Rent Committee, the complainant must pay a fee of 3.5 per cent of the current rent. If they win, the landlord must refund this and any other costs as confirmed by the Committee.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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