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.


Anonymous said...

Thanks a million for the detailed instructions, people should start going to the rent committee..I'm going tomorrow morning 7:30am... the strange thing is that people are actually considering buying the accupied flats? and what really confuses me is that Emaar or Hamptons are renting new buildings in Dubai Marina?? why would anyone rent from Emaar, its not safe nor stable, they will sell the whole building once its fully rented...

Anonymous said...

Just got back from the rent committee, according to the gentlemen I spoke to over there, the new landlord has no right to evict me from my apartment, and he must honor the existing contract, also he cannot increase the rent at the time of renewal. In case he decides to move in and proves that he really wants to move in, at least a one year notice should be given to the tenant, which doesn’t mean that the tenant is obliged to leave the apartment after one year.
By the way, the names Emaar and Hamptons are well-known in the rent committee, it seems that a lot of neighbors have paid them a visit.
Please guys, share your experience with us, its very helpful to know what can be done and what would really works.
Good luck to everyone.

Anonymous said...

anyone got the letter of the new owner from Emaar on this weekend??

Anonymous said...

Have just received a letter about new owner
my lease expires end of august
anybody else in this sitiation?

Anonymous said...

to Anonymous on 22nd of August, I have received the same letter from Emaar, I went to the rent committee and they confirmed that the new landlord has no right to kick me out or increase the rent, the best thing for you to do now is send an email and fax to the new owner telling him that you would like to renew the contract, if he/she sends you an increase in rent or ask you to vacate you can take that written reply directly to the rent committee... if you say that your lease expires end of august then my advice after sending the fax, if you couldn't get a reply is to go to the rent committee and file a complain.. I wonder how come your lease expires at the end of August and you didn't renew it tell now with Emaar... if you already renewed it then there's nothing to worry about.

Anonymous said...

To anon 26 august

I havent renewd it cos they removed the renewal clause from the contract
now the new owner can just get rid of the tennant after 1 year
have took it to rent committee now
so waiting for ruling

Anonymous said...

if you didn't sign the new contract with Emaar, the one with no renewal clause then you have the right to ask the new landlord to renew the contract with all trerms and conditions as the previuos lease with Emaar, including the renwal clause.. however the new landlord can claim that they want the apartmrnt for themselves, mine is a pakistani lady and am sure someone else bought the apartment under her name so it wont appear that they own more than one apartment.. please let us know the outcome with the rent committee... good luck to you..

Anonymous said...

thanks for the detailed steps.

I'm one of the very first people who renewed their contracts and i did notice that they removed the renewal clause and thought that they leave it to the country laws....

So what should i do now? i already signed the new contract.

Any experience with the same or adivce?

Anonymous said...

my understanding is that (at present) just removing the renewal clause is not enough to allow the landlord to refuse to renew your contract next time round. But it comes down then to whether the rent committee believes that the new landlord genuinely wants you out because he wants to occupy the apartment. I suspect the rent committee are not fools and they know that of course landlords will claim this, even if it is not true.

Of course, going to the rent committee to keep the renewal clause is better (assuming you win), as it binds and future landlord and Emaar to give you a renewal if you seek it - automatically - whether they come up with some tosh about wanting to move in or not.

Things to consider in your favour if the landlord tried this next time round... have they been in your apartment to view it? No one buys a place to live in without doing so. They might buy investments on that basis, but not a home they wish to occupy. They don't know what state it's in, or exactly what it is like inside.

Furthermore, those on the older Emaar leases should note that there is nothing that requires you to let prospective buyers view your apartment. That only applies if YOU do not confirm to Emaar that you wish to stay and therefore effectively give 3 months notice. In that case, you have to allow reasonable access for new tenants to visit and view it.

So my advice is:

1) If Hamptons/Emaar calls you or turns up with someone who wants to view your apartment, refuse point blank to give them entry. You have quiet enjoyment and the lease gives them no right to expect access for this purpose.

2) If someone buys your property without viewing it, they clearly have no intention of occupying it. And I'm sure the rent committee would agree.

So to the last poster, even if there is no renewal clause in the latest contract you signed, you should still no accept any instruction to leave or refusal to give you a new lease next year. If you have not received notice yet, then you have no had the required 1 year notice.

I have a first hearing in a few days time re: Hamptons removal of the renewal clause. We shall see what happens. Considering the Rent Committee is the only measure the government has taken against inflation, then it had better work, or there really is no point sticking around. There are plenty of cheaper places where the economy is under control to take my business as it's long term stability and growth I'm after, not pocketing some quick dosh in a bubble.

Anonymous said...

Do not forget too that there are plenty of apartments at the marina and elsewhere that are empty and available for purchase. If someone knowingly buys an apartment with a sitting tenant, then buyer beware. They knew it was occupied with a tenant, they should therefore know that the tenant has rights and probably doesn't want to leave.

The rent committee has previously ruled in favour of people who were asked to leave by a purchaser who wanted to move in. The reason - the tenant had nowhere else to go that was even close to comparable rent they could afford. So, even if the landlord genuinely wants the place for himself, he still might not be able to if you can prove you have nowhere else to go (which given the out of control rent inflation in Dubai, is true of many tenants).

The rent committee will only work if tenants use it. Don't just talk about it, you have to bite the bullet and actually do it, or else you have to accept you will get walked on and be muscled out.

Anonymous said...

the one thing i would like to know is how Emaar managed to sell all of the apartments suddenly within one month maximum... i wonder what they've told the new landlords? how did they encouraged them to buy? what kind of discount or incintives they have givin them?

Anonymous said...

I know for a fact that EMAAR have been selling the flats at a price less/same than that offered to tennants some time ago.

The flats are being sold on the premise that the new owner will not be able to mve in for about two years depending on the expiry of the lease.
If your lease expires in Sep 07 then the new buyer will not be able to move in till sep 09 ie. 1 year notice from your lease expiry in Sep 08.
This is what they are telling prospective buyers anyway.
They may try and get round this though, whisch is where you need to contact the rent committee

Anonymous said...

"So, even if the landlord genuinely wants the place for himself, he still might not be able to if you can prove you have nowhere else to go (which given the out of control rent inflation in Dubai, is true of many tenants)."

I find that a lot of tenants are using righteous indignation to fuel their postings. Try to look at this from a more wholistic perspective...there are those landlords out there who aren't "greedy devious bastards" wanting to genuinely move in but faced with tenants who have a pretty good/substantial salary easily able to find another place albeit "more expensive" refusing to move as what they are paying at the Lakes for example is half the market value.

I can understand being being upset at "greesy bastards" and "Emaar" but realistically if the villas are being sold then people will buy them and they don't all fall into one category. Yes, there are genuine landlords who'd like to move in after doing the place up by visiting a "model/demo" villa and not ever being to the one they buy since it's known that there might be some wear and tear and other factors.

Most of the postings here on this blog are one-sided, obviously because of it being about "Homeless Tenants" but hell, someone should start a blog about "Homeless Landlords" due to devious tenants not wanting to move out since paradise was apparently gonna last forever.

Anonymous said...

i completely agree with you anonymous... i have applied for a loan of 3.5m to buy a vill ain the lakes, beacuse i am currently being evicted from my place at jbr. and i genuely need to move in as i will be homeless and with a huge loan to pay. what happens then? the tenants ar erefusing to move out.. this came as a chock to me.

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