Can landlord evict tenant before Dubai tenancy contract expires?

Senior legal expert explains what due process is to serve tenant with an eviction notice

With the property recovery in Dubai gathering momentum, rent rises are in the offing. 

Worried tenants are marking time on when landlords will move to alter contracts for low rents struck during the teeth of the financial crisis. 

Landlords, well within their rights, are looking to make up for lost value and cash in on the recovery. 

CJ, an Indian expat, who rented a villa in Meadows last year, has been told by his landlord to vacate the property when his contract expires in February 2013. 

“I was served a notice two months back that my landlord was moving to Dubai and would be staying in his villa. 

“I paid five per cent commission to the agent  and now the same person bought me the notice,” he said.

“I have been advised by my friends to file a complaint with the rent committee. But I haven’t decided on that,” CJ added. 

A top legal expert says at least a 12-month notice has to be served by to evict a tenant if the landlord plans to the property for personal use. 

“The landlord must prove that he does not own a suitable alternative property for his own use and post-possession, the property cannot be lease for at two years,” Shahram Safai, Partner, Afridi & Angell, told Emirates 24|7. 

But if the landlord can prove that the tenant has failed to pay rent value, subleased the property, used the property for illegal or immoral activities, the tenant can then be evicted before expiry of the tenancy period. 

Q&A 

If a landlord wants to move into his apartment/villa, can he/she give a two-month notice to the tenant to vacate the property? 

No, in terms of Article 25 of Law 26 of 2007 (as amended by Law 33 of 2008), where a Landlord wishes to recover the property for his personal use or use by his next of kin, he must give the Tenant at least 12 months’ notice prior to the determined date of eviction. 

In addition, the landlord must also prove that he does not own a suitable alternative property for his own use. 

If the landlord is successful in recovering possession under this ground, he may not rent the property to others for at least 2 years from the date of recovery unless the Judicial Committee decides otherwise. 

What are the rights of a tenant if they are served with a notice to vacate the unit before the rent contract expires? 

Under Article 7 of Law 26 of 2007, a valid lease may not be terminated unilaterally during its term by either the landlord or the tenant but rather by common agreement or by virtue of the provisions of the present law (see question 4 below).  Therefore, in these circumstances, the tenant need not vacate the property and can remain in occupation until such time as the landlord can validly obtain vacant possession of the property.  Where the tenant has received a termination notice on the basis of any of the grounds referred to below, the tenant may contest any termination by filing a case with the Dubai Rents Committee. 

In what situation can a landlord ask a tenant to vacate his apartment/villa?

Article 25 of Law 26 of 2007 (as amended by Law 33 of 2008) provides for the circumstances in which a landlord can ask a tenant to vacate his property. 

1. A landlord may demand eviction of tenant prior to expiry of tenancy period in the following cases:

a. If the tenant fails to pay rent value, or part thereof, within thirty (30) days of the landlord’s notification for payment; unless parties agreed otherwise.

b. If the tenant subleases the property, or part thereof, without the landlord’s written approval and in such case eviction shall be applicable to the tenant and the subtenant, and the subtenant’s right to refer to the tenant for compensation shall be reserved.

c. If the tenant uses, or allows others to use, the property for illegal or immoral activities.

d. If the leased property is a commercial shop and the tenant left the same without occupation and without legal reason for 30 continual days or 90 non-continual days in one year; unless the parties agreed otherwise.

e. If the tenant causes changes that endanger safety of the property in a way that it cannot be restored to its original condition or if he causes damage to the property intentionally or due to his gross negligence to take proper precautions or if he allows others to cause such damage.

f. If the tenant uses the property for purposes other than the purpose it was leased for or if he uses the property in a way that violates planning, building and land using regulations.

g. If the property is in danger of collapse, provided that the landlord must prove such condition by a technical report issued by Dubai Municipality or accredited by it.

h. If the tenant fails to observe legal obligations or tenancy contract conditions within (30) days from date of notification by the landlord to abide by such obligations or conditions.

1. If development requirements in the Emirate require demolition and reconstruction of the property in accordance with government authorities instructions.

And for the purpose of this clause (1) of this Article the landlord must notify the tenant through the Notary Public or by registered mail. 

2. A landlord may demand eviction of tenant upon expiry of tenancy contract limited to the following cases:

a. If the owner wishes to demolish the property for reconstruction or to add new constructions that prevent tenant from benefitting from the leased property, provided that necessary licences are obtained.

b. If the property requires renovation or comprehensive maintenance which cannot be executed while tenant is occupying the property, provided that a technical report issued by Dubai Municipality or accredited by it is to be submitted to this effect.

c. If the owner of the property wishes to recover the property for use by him personally or by his next of kin of first degree provided that he proves that he does not own a suitable alternative property for that purpose.

d. If the owner of the property wishes to sell the leased property.

And for the purpose of this clause 2, the landlord must notify the tenant with reasons for eviction at least twelve months prior to the determined date of eviction subject that such notice be sent through the Notary Public or by registered mail.

Do rent contract terms and conditions supersede the law of land? 

No, although certain items such as additional payment for use of recreational facilities, the requirement to provide 90 days’ notice if one of the parties seeks to amend the terms of the tenancy contract, liability for maintenance, the removal of any fixed improvements and assignment or sub-letting can be as agreed by the parties in the Tenancy Contract.

Image via Shutterstock

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