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Can Dubai tenant sublease property on airbnb?

I have a question regarding Airbnb which, like everywhere, seems to be becoming an increasingly popular platform in the UAE. Given that many rental agreements have clauses stating that subleasing a property is not permitted, do you think that there is going to be a clamp down on individuals wanting to rent out their flats? Is it advisable to seek the approval of your landlord before putting your rented flat up on Airbnb? Also, in your opinion, is it likely that we will see some kind of legislation on renting out property via sites like these in the UAE? FM, Dubai

Subletting your rented property is not permissible unless the landlord has agreed to it too. The law changed last June stating that residential properties for use as holiday homes will be restricted to licensed operators only. If owners wish to rent out their properties on a holiday-let basis, they would have to register with the Dubai Trade commerce marketing (DTCM) as an operator. To register, there are certain criteria that have to be met although, for example, an individual with less than 20 properties in his or her portfolio cannot register as an individual operator but will have to use the services of an agent who will have more than 20 properties and is also licensed.

The main reason for the government to register this growing industry is to ensure certain standards are adhered to, such as cleanliness, services, health and safety etc. With more hotel rooms needed as we get closer to Dubai Expo 2020, this initiative to open up the holiday let market was seen as a positive step. I suspect that even if owners wish to advertise their properties on sites such as Airbnb, they would still have to register with the DTCM, or else risk a fine if caught out.

Can an Abu Dhabi landlord increase rent by 15 per cent with only 60 days’ notice. Last year they gave two weeks notice and we agreed to the rent rise but this year they have increased it a lot, I know they didn’t follow the law last year but have they this year? TL, Abu Dhabi

Last year, your landlord did not follow the correct rules in terms of the notice period given. This year, your landlord wants to increase your rent by 15 per cent and has given you 60 days notice before the expiry of your agreement for the increase. I can confirm that he is entitled to charge whatever increase he likes, given that the Abu Dhabi government removed the 5 per cent increase rental cap nearly two years ago. As long as he has given you the 60 days notice, he is entitled to this increase for the next rental agreement. If you do not agree with this change, your only option is to vacate and look for another property.

I moved out of my apartment in Sulafa Tower, Dubai Marina last month. The property was sold by the owner at the end of July (I was given notice last year). I have been waiting to receive my deposit back for one month and the agent is saying that the landlord and the previous owner are in a disagreement over the deposit and they are trying to sort it out. The apartment was given back immaculately (I spent Dh2,000 out of my own pocket). What can I do to hurry this along? SD, Dubai

Your situation is a delicate one. On the one side, you definitely are entitled to the return of your deposit on handover of the property as long as it is in the same condition it was given to you. On the other, this dispute is causing you the delay in getting it back. When the buyer (your new landlord) bought the property, he then became responsible to discharge all and any of his landlord responsibilities, and this obviously would include the return of the deposit. Given the details in your email, I am sure the deposit money has probably not been given to him yet (by the seller) and hence the dispute, but in some sense this is irrelevant. You have fulfilled your side of the agreement so I suggest you contact him again and although (I’m sure) you are sympathetic to his situation with the seller, you do need to remind him of his responsibilities to you, which includes resolving this issue. You are an innocent victim of circumstance, so, regrettably, patience and persistence are your only tools to your argument.

Opening up a case at the rental committee could speed up the process, but you need to weigh up the cost in terms of money and time against the value of your deposit.

Mario Volpi has worked in the real estate industry in Dubai and in London for the past 30 years. Send any questions to

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only.

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