Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Trip to the Rent Committee

The Rent Committee is Dubai's answer to the increasing problems for tenants faced with rent demands above the official rent cap or eviction demands (most likely due to the landlord wishing to sidestep the rent cap and rent out the property to a new tenant at a higher rent).

Some Greens apartments have been sold to third parties who are trying to impose 60% rent increases on the tenants by refusing to renew leases and instead only offering a new lease at inflated rent. Tenants in Greens apartments that are still owned by Emaar are being offered the same rent (in accordance with the rent cap law) but a slightly modified lease that removes the right to renew.

The law is apparently clear; any new landlord takes over the obligations of the lease, including the obligation to renew the lease if requested by the tenant. He must do this at a rent that is in accordance with the rent cap law (i.e. no rent increase if your rent increased last year). The law also requires that the renewal be on the same terms.

To file a complaint requires a trip to the Rent Committee. This is located in Deira at the Dubai Municipality building next to the creek. It's a big cube shaped building with "Dubai Municipality" in big letters visible from streets away. You cannot miss it.

The first step is to go to the counter, and they will advise that you get a ticket from the machine by the door. When you number is called, you will go to a small numbered room where you can talk to an advisor who will recommend whether to proceed or not. The advice from him regarding Emaar's new lease is that the lease must be offered on the same terms and that you should lodge a complaint if it is not. Apparently he said that many people have already done so.

The next steps are a little confused. You will require passport copies, both the old lease and the new one (if not available because your landlord won't supply one, put that information in your claim). You will then have to go to another counter to get an Arabic version of your complaint typed. It helps if you prepare a brief summary of what you want in English if you do not write Arabic. Keep it short and to the point, e.g.

1. The landlord has increased the rent beyond the rent cap and I wish to have the rent cap applied.

2. The landlord has changed the terms and conditions of the new lease and I wish to have the lease renewed with the original terms and conditions.

Have some cash with you as this Arabic translation costs 25 AED.

Next you have to visit another desk for the data to be entered to the computer system. You will then have to take your papers to the cashier desk and pay 3.5% of the current annual rent (you can use credit card at some marked windows). Get a photocopy of the receipt and the complaint form (the Arabic one you had translated) as you'll need these for the next step.

Finally, you need to visit a couple more rooms to get various signatures and stamps and then you will be allocated a date to turn up at the hearing.

The process is a little convoluted, but if you turn up early there are not too many people around and the staff are helpful in advising you where to go for each step.

If you win your complaint, the landlord will have to repay the fees you paid back to you.

The Dubai Government has provided the rent committee to provide some protection for tenants' rights and to help fight the damaging inflationary spiral that rent rises and bogus evictions are causing. While the process is not hassle-free, it only takes a couple of hours. You cannot complain about the system if you are unwilling to use the protections provided. Time will tell, but hopefully those Greens tenants who seek to use the protection of the rent committee will achieve a just outcome.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

From Rent Committee General Secretary - "Tenants can stay in rented homes for at least 3 years"

The Dubai Rent Committee has cleared air, and announced that landlords who wish to move back into their homes that have been rented out, cannot do so, until the tenants completes three years of contract.

Despite the fact that the standard rental contracts last one year, unless the agreement signed by both parties state otherwise, the rent committee would still stand in support of the leaseholder.

The General Secretary of the Committee, Mohammad Ahmad Al Shaikh, said the tenants have the right to stay in the property, due to the money invested in furnishing the house.

"It is no doubt, the prerogative of the house owners to live in their own house. But, in case, they have decided to let out the house for rent, they should understand that it is for a minimum of three years, though the contract is signed only for a year," Al Shaikh said.

Many landlords are said to have approached the rent committee as the tenants are refusing to vacate the property. But, according to Al Shaikh, the case will move in favour of landlord, only if, the contract clearly states that the house will have to be vacated after a year.

In the meanwhile, the landlords have branded the rule as "absurd" and "against the basic principles of ownership laws", as it prevents them from moving into their own house, but, the tenants have welcomed the policy.

As per the guidelines issued by the rent committee, the landlords who wished to move back into their own homes, could do so, provided, they do not rent our their house again.

The committee says that in case the landlord wishes to move back to their own house, their intention behind doing so, should be proven, and the landlord should ensure that the tenants are provided with sufficient notice period.

Any landlords violating these conditions will have to bear the consequences, the rent committee said.

Original story: http://www.estatesdubai.com/2007/07/tenants-permitted-to-stay-for-three.html
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