How to solve a rental dispute in Dubai

The relationship between landlord and tenant can sometimes sour if one of the parties fails to honour the terms of the contract during the tenancy period. Rental disputes typically arise when you have exhausted all means of communication and cannot reach a settlement with your landlord.

The most common reasons for dispute are:

  • Unreasonable grounds for eviction
  • An unlawful rent increase by the landlord

The Rental Disputes Settlement Centre (RDSC) was established specifically to resolve all conflicts between landlords and tenants in Dubai. If you are unable to reach a mutually agreed resolution with your landlord, you may wish to file a complaint to have authorities intervene.

How to lodge a rental dispute ?

Make sure you have originals and copies of the following documents when filing your rental dispute:

  • Passport, Residence Visa and Emirates ID
  • Ejari certificate
  • Tenancy contract
  • Recent DEWA bills
  • Rental deposit slip
  • Copies of cheques issued to the landlord
  • Title Deed and passport copy of landlord 
  • Copies of any correspondence between you and the landlord regarding the dispute
  • Any other relevant documentation which may support your case

It is important to note that all above documents will need to be translated into Arabic, as this is the official language of the courts in Dubai. Once you have your documents ready, proceed to the RDSC where a typing centre exists to fill out your complaint and file your case. The typist will translate the documents into Arabic and ask any relevant questions about the nature of your dispute so your complaint can be formalised correctly.

Costs to lodge a rental dispute

  • 3.5% of the annual rent (minimum AED 500, maximum AED 20,000) to lodge a complaint
  • Approximately AED 210 per page translation fee for relevant documents
  • Approximately AED 110 administration fee


When is a landlord permited to evict a tenant?

Under Dubai Tenancy Law, Article 25 (1), a landlord may demand eviction of a tenant prior to expiry of the tenancy period in the following circumstances:

  • The tenant defaults to pay the rent within 30 days of receipt of a payment notice unless otherwise agreed;
  • The tenant subleases the unit without the landlord’s written consent;
  • The tenant utilises or allows others to use the property for immoral or illegal activities;
  • The tenant risks the safety of the property, causing damage intentionally or resulting from gross negligence, or allows others to cause damage;
  • The property is in the risk of collapse, as indicated by a technical report; 
  • The tenant makes use of the property beyond the permitted use or violates building regulations; 
  • The tenant fails to follow its legal or contractual obligations within 30 days of receipt of a remedy notice; and/or
  • The property needs demolition by a government authority.
The Rental Disputes Settlement Centre was established in Dubai to help the landlord and tenant in time of a dispute.

Upon expiration of the tenancy term, the landlord cannot evict a tenant unless the reason for removal is clearly stated in Article 25 (2) of Dubai Tenancy Law. Alandlord may demand eviction of a tenant on expiry of tenancy contract in the following cases:

  • Development requirements in the Emirate require demolition and reconstruction of the property in accordance with government authorities; 
  • The landlord wants to demolish the property;
  • The property requires renovation or extensive maintenance that cannot be conducted while the tenant is occupying the property;
  • The landlord needs the property for his personal use or by immediate next of kin.

However, in all the above mentioned cases, the landlord must notify the tenant with reasons of eviction at least ninety (90) days prior to expiry date of tenancy contract.

If landlord needs property for personal use:

If the landlord wants to retain the property for personal use, Article 26 (2) of the Tenancy Law prohibits the landlord from leasing the property to a third party for a period of two years, or in the case of non-residential properties, for three years, unless the (RDSC) determines a lesser period.

If the landlord rents the property within the restricted timeframe, directly breaching Article 26 (2), a tenant can also request the RDSC award compensation.

What is the notice period for eviction?

The landlord must provide a 12-month notice to the tenant before the date of eviction through a notary public or by registered mail.

Increase in rent amount

If your tenancy contract is approaching renewal, and you are thinking of renegotiating the annual rent amount with your landlord, it is useful to know your legal rights. 

Decree No. 43 of 2013 governs rental increases for property in Dubai. This law establishes whether a landlord is entitled to increase the annual rent, and the percentage increase that can be applied to the property. The standard used to justify a landlord’s ability to increase the rent is based on whether the existing lease falls within the average rental for comparable properties as determined by RERA’s Rental Increase Calculator. 

When is a rental increase permitted?

Under the Dubai Rental Price Index, landlords may adhere to the following framework for rental increases:

  • No increase is permitted when the rent increase calculator shows the current rent paid is within the stipulated range.
  • A 5% rent increase is permitted when the rent falls between 11–20% less than the average for the location;
  • A 10% rent increase is permitted when the rent falls between 21–30% less than the average for the location;
  • A 15% rent increase is permitted when the rent falls between 31–40% less than the average for the location;
  • A 20% rent increase is permitted when the rent is less than 40% of the average for the location.

RERA determines the rent index, and to what extent an increase will apply, based on the following:

  • Type of property (residential, commercial or industrial)
  • Freehold or leasehold
  • Villa or apartment
  • Location of the property
  • Number of bedrooms

The information used by RERA to obtain the average rent is collected from DLD’s Ejari system.

What is the rent increase notice period?

If the landlord demands an increase in the rent upon renewal, you are not obligated to agree to it. So, what are your rights in this situation? Dubai Tenancy Law states that when either party wishes to change the terms of the tenancy contract, they must notify the other party not less than 90 days before the expiry date, unless otherwise agreed.

Things to check

  • Whether the proposed rent increase is within the bounds of RERA’s rental increase calculator;
  • If your community is not listed in the rental increase calculator, then the regular rules of rental increase do not apply. In this instance, you and your landlord will have to agree upon what you feel is a fair price;
  • If your community is listed in the rental increase calculator but you believe one or both of the above mentioned requirements have not been met, you can contest the landlord’s notice. If you do not reach an agreement, you can submit a complaint to the RDSC.

If you refuse the rental increase as proposed by the landlord, you must provide 60 days’ notice before the renewal date that you will be vacating the property.

Conversely, you are seeking to negotiate a rental decrease, you must ensure a written request is issued to the landlord within the timeframe mentioned within the 90 day period before the expiry date of the tenancy contract, per Tenancy Law, unless agreed otherwise. 

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