Dubai landlord orders tenant via WhatsApp to leave in three weeks as 'villa to be destroyed'

I received a notice to vacate from my landlord via WhatsApp, rather than by letter. He said he had to evict because the municipality ordered him to destroy the villa. Should he pay me back some penalties since he is asking me to evict within three weeks? SC, Dubai Law 33 of 2008, which amends […]

I received a notice to vacate from my landlord via WhatsApp, rather than by letter. He said he had to evict because the municipality ordered him to destroy the villa. Should he pay me back some penalties since he is asking me to evict within three weeks? SC, Dubai

Law 33 of 2008, which amends Law 26 of 2007, states many reasons for eviction but pertinent to your case is point F:

“A landlord may seek eviction of the tenant prior to the expiry of the tenancy term if; Point F. where the property is condemned, provided that the landlord must prove this by a technical report issued or attested to by Dubai Municipality”.

In your case, therefore, if the municipality has ordered the owner to destroy the villa, he needs to show you written proof of this. Plus this notification of eviction has to be sent through notary public or registered mail. Sending it via WhatsApp is not allowed.

I believe that the real reason for eviction may not be what the landlord is stating. He is just using this as an excuse to evict you much quicker than the statutory 12 months’ notice required for other reasons to gain the property back.

I suggest you hold your ground and seek the proof as suggested. For the property to be condemned by the municipality, it must be either in danger of collapse or in such a poor state of repair that I’m sure you would know about it. The property could also be subject to a demolition order because of further development in the area or a road that will be restricted without the demolition of the villa, either way the technical report is needed.

The landlord will have to return any rent paid beyond your eviction, but you will not be entitled to compensation as the reason for eviction is beyond the control of the landlord.

I recently moved out of a flat I have rented for more than three years. Before vacating, we deep cleaned and painted it. After almost two months, the landlord is now telling me that my Dh7,000 deposit will not be returned due to the apartment not being left clean and because some shelves had been put up that had not been taken down. The shelves were already there when we moved in and the flat was left immaculate and in far better condition than it was given to us. Do we have any chance of getting the deposit returned if we take it further with Rera? TI, Dubai

Sadly, your situation is not uncommon as unfortunately some landlords believe it is their right to withhold deposits for no apparent reason.

My advice before doing anything else, would be to call a face-to-face meeting with the landlord to talk through exactly what you have done to the apartment before vacating. Show the evidence of painting and cleaning by producing the invoices and receipts from the companies that have carried out the work. If this meeting is not successful then of course you should take the matter further by filing a case at the rental committee. The only problem is that it will cost you 3.5 per cent of the annual rental amount to open the case. It is then a decision of whether it is economically viable to do so in relation to the amount of the deposit. Please do not misunderstand my stance on this. It is outrageous that landlords keep deposits without justification, but often they do get away with it as tenants also do not want to go through the hassle, the time and cost to fight to get justice all for the sake of deposits that amount to sometimes less than Dh10,000.

The solution, in my opinion is clear. Landlords should not be allowed to hold on to a tenant’s deposit. Instead, registered real estate agents should hold the deposits in protected escrow accounts. After inspection of the property, after the tenant has moved out, a document is produced and signed to agree the property’s condition after which the agent releases the deposit. Any future disputes could still be heard at the rental committee, but these relating to deposits should be few and far between as in most cases agreements would be reached and deposits returned.

Mario Volpi is the chief sales officer for Kensington Exclusive Properties and has worked in the property industry for the past 32 years in London and Dubai. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and they do not reflect in any way those of the institutions to which he is affiliated. It does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Please send any questions to mario.volpi@kensington.ae.

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