How to register your contract with Ejari, calculate your rent via RERA and raise a dispute to Dubai’s Rental Dispute Settlement Centre.

The rental markets are in a frenzy once more and many Dubai tenants are confused about which rental laws are real and which are pure myth. So to clear up the confusion, Souqalmal.com has provided 10 rules below that should help you stay on the right side of your landlord.

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1. Your contract must be registered

Since 2010 all tenancy agreements are supposed to be registered electronically with Ejari (meaning My Rent) in Dubai. This is something that is typically done by the landlord, but tenants can do it too. The cost is typically AED 160 for typing plus AED 35 administration fee. You will need your original tenancy contract, a DEWA bill, a copy of the title deed or site plan and a copy of your passport and visa.

2. You cannot be evicted unless your landlord wants to move in

The law is very clear on this. It does not allow a tenant to be removed simply because a landlord wants to re-let a property to gain a better rental income. Tenants can only be asked to leave if they or a next of kin wants to move in, if they want to sell the property or if the property requires extensive renovation or requires demolition.

3. You must be given 12 months’ notice to move out

If your landlord does have grounds to move in, you must be given 12 months’ notice. This particularly applies if the landlord or his family plan to move in or if he plans to sell the property. The eviction notice must be notarized and sent via registered post. Failure to do this means you are entitled to stay in the property until the appropriate eviction notice is sent and the notice period served.

4. If your landlord wants to sell the property, he can do so with you still living there

The property can be sold with you still living in the property. This will be marketed as a property with a sitting tenant. If the new buyer wants to move in, they must give you a 12-month eviction notice once the property is handed over to them.

5. The landlord cannot raise the rent unless it is in accordance with RERA’s Rental Index

When the time comes to renew your tenancy contract, this is when lots of outrageous demands tend to come from landlords. However, you can ignore the outrageous demands and focus on the Rental Index provided by the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA). This maps the exact rent you should be paying for your property in your area so use the rental calculator  provided by RERA to calculate what you should be paying.  Select your area, property type, number of bedrooms and current rent and the calculator will calculate what rental increase is correct for your particular property. This should be abided by your landlord.

Landlords were allowed to increase rents by a maximum of 20 percent as of 21 December 2013, according to the following guidelines –

  • If rent is less than 10 percent below market value, there can be no increase.
  • If rent is 11 – 20 percent below market value, the maximum rent increase can be five percent.
  • If rent is 21 – 30 percent below market value, the maximum rent increase can be 10 percent.
  • If rent is 31 – 40 percent below market value, the maximum rent increase can be 15 percent.
  • If rent is more than 40 percent below market value, the maximum rent increase can be 20 percent.

6. The RERA Rental Index operates under exact guidelines

A new rent decree issued in December now allows landlords to increase rents by 5 per cent if they are 11 per cent below the market rate for the area as determined by the Rental Index. This compares to the previous 26 per cent.

Permitted rent increases then continue on a sliding scale up to a maximum of 20 per cent if the rent is more than 40 per cent below the area average.

7. The number of cheques is at the discretion of the landlord

There is no limit on the number of cheques demanded by a landlord. Some are more flexible and will accept 12 cheques, others demand one cheque. It can be used as a bargaining tool to secure a lower rent i.e. “I’ll pay in one cheque if you reduce the rent by AED 5, 000”.

8. In the run-up to the renewal, landlord and tenant must give 90 days’ notice

Whether a landlord wants to raise a rent, or a tenant wants to vacate a property, they must both give each other 90 days’ notice of their intentions. Failure to do so means that a landlord cannot legally raise the rent and a tenant could be told they haven’t given sufficient notice to move out. And if you cannot get in touch with your landlord at renewal time because they are overseas, the contract automatically rolls over at the same rental rate. So make sure to pay the rent on time to validate the new agreement. Remember renewal fees are valid too.  An agent handling the renewal of a tenancy contract is entitled to charge you a renewal fee – typically up to Dh 1, 000. After all they cannot be expected to draft a new contract for free. That cost is sometimes handled by the landlord and sometimes by the tenant. It can also be shared between the two – it depends on the arrangement the two of you have.

9. Properties governed by the DIFC do not fall under RERA’s jurisdiction

RERA’s guidelines to limit rent increases do not apply to properties governed by the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). Therefore landlords are free to raise rents in accordance with market demand. If a landlord is being completely unreasonable, the DIFC courts do oversee rental disputes in the Small Claims Tribunal and the main court.

10. If the landlord is being unreasonable, take the case to the Rent Committee

File a case at Dubai’s Rental Dispute Settlement Centre (RDSC) in the Dubai Land Department, which has replaced the earlier Dubai Muncipality Rent Committee. The cost of filing a case is 3.5 percent of the annual rent, to a minimum of AED 350 and a maximum of AED 20,000. Other fees may be levied by RDSC on the plaintiff for summoning experts, payment of expert’s fee, fee for deposit of rent with RDSC etc. Most disputes are judged within 75 days. Call 600 555 556.

And… you can negotiate

Yes all of the rules above apply, but not all landlords are sharks and some are open to negotiation. So, before you head to the Rent Committee, try negotiating first. Let’s say you are paying well below the market rate. The landlord, if he considers you a good tenant, may be willing to ignore the RERA calculator’s recommendation and meet you somewhere in the middle. Again, if the landlord is asking far more than the RERA calculator, gently remind him of the law. It could be that he simply didn’t realize or needed a little nudge to keep him in line.