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Abu Dhabi tenant wants to break contract after maintenance nightmare

We have rented a place in Abu Dhabi for a year, however maintenance is non- existent. We often have broken AC and no water in the whole villa. We have had no hot water for two months and a main gate that is broken which has not been fixed for four months. I have been trying to call the landlord to fix it, yet nothing has been done and they do not seem to care. So I want to know if these maintenance issues are a breach of contract and if I can leave before the contract expires. Payments on my contract are split into two and the second one should happen by the end of this month. Living here in winter without hot water is tough, but I do not know what else to do other than moving out. ER, Abu Dhabi

It really saddens me to read stories like yours. Now I know that most landlords are good abiding citizens, but there do appear to be a few individuals who believe it is OK to shirk their responsibilities to their tenants when things go wrong.

A rental contract is between two persons, a landlord and tenant; both these individuals sign up to uphold the law and fulfil their respective responsibilities. In your case either you have a landlord who doesn’t care about his property at all or is not concerned about your welfare. The tenant’s right to enjoy the property is a fundamental principle of any rental contract, but this can be eradicated by the behaviour of some landlords.

My question to landlords would be, if they lived in the property and certain things needed repair or maintenance, would they continue to live there without doing anything about it? I’m sure they would fix it straight away. Why, therefore, do they think that it is OK to go missing or not return calls when asked to help? It’s about time these rogue landlords were taught a lesson that to be a landlord requires responsibility. They have to maintain the property for the short-term benefit of the tenant who, after all, is paying the rent and the long-term benefit of the landlord himself.

You have two choices: either you do leave, in which case you have to give 60 days’ notice to vacate but you cannot leave until the end of your agreement (unless agreed by the landlord) or you conduct the repairs yourself, then deduct the cost from the next rental amount. But I must make it clear that to do so would require approval from the rent committee first (Article 8 of the tenancy law).

I just received a legal notice from my landlord (stamped by Dubai Courts, Notary Public) to vacate my villa within 12 months. The reason mentioned in the notice is “maintenance for the villa and design of a new form of the villa”. I seriously doubt he wants to carry out works – the villa is less than 10 years old and we had some disputes over maintenance during the year. I think he simply wants to get rid of me. Can I ask for some sort of evidence/plan of works approved by the municipality before I vacate? And after I vacate, if he rents out the villa right away can I ask for compensation? MR, Dubai

Your landlord is entitled to seek eviction from you for reasons of renovation or comprehensive maintenance, to add new constructions or to demolish the property for reconstruction as these changes cannot be executed while you are occupying the property. He would, however, need to obtain necessary licences or technical reports issued by Dubai Municipality or accredited by it. It would therefore be right for you to ask to see these licences or permissions from the DM to prove his correct intentions.

If you subsequently find out he has relet the property after you have vacated, Law 33 of 2007 Article 26 only mentions that a property cannot be relet for a period of at least two years if the landlord recovered the property for his own use or use of his first degree next of kin. The law is therefore silent for the reason he has given. The rental committee may regard this action of future letting of the villa, after evicting you for reasons renovation/rebuilding, as going against the spirit of the law. I do, however, wish to stress that each case is decided on a case-by-case basis.

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