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Dubai tenant ‘ordered to pay Dh70,000 after property firm fled country’

My friend and I paid a guy a full year’s rent for rooms in an Al Barsha hotel as he had a real estate company and a contract with the hotel. After six months the hotel called us and locked us out of our rooms and called the police. The police came and said the hotel needed a court order to evict us. We did not hear from them for almost six months and we leave at the end of this month from the hotel. However, we received a letter from the hotel’s lawyer today saying that we have to pay Dh70,000. But an Arabic person we know says the letter states that the real estate company said that we were employees. I am just looking for advice on what you suggest we do. We are moving out in two weeks, but do you think we have to pay the Dh70,000 as we have proof we paid it to the real estate company but they fled the country and didn’t pay the hotel. I am so worried and sorry for the long email, but any reply or advice would be really appreciated. MG, Dubai

In situations like this there are often two victims, both landlord and the subtenant.

In your case, given that you will be moving out shortly, I wouldn’t worry too much as it can be proved that:

a) You are not an employee of the real estate company and

b) You have evidence that you paid the rent in good faith to them believing they had the authority to lease out the apartment. The fact that they turned out to be less than honourable and have now run away without paying the rent to the real landlord should not be regarded as your fault. I would therefore do nothing and wait to see what move the landlord makes. In any case you should be able to defend yourself as stated above. I believe that they think you are a soft target as you are currently living in their property without (in their eyes) having paid the rent.

I wrote to you some time ago requesting your advice regarding a property which we were in the process of purchasing. There was a tenant in with no vacating notice. You advised that either ourselves or the old landlord should issue the vacating notice. The old landlord did this as per your advice. Now the tenant is saying that he will not accept the old landlord’s vacating notice, and we are required to issue him with a new one. Is this correct or does the initial vacating notice stand even though the landlord has changed? All the advice I obtained indicates that the vacating notice is valid. Can you advise/suggest how to handle this situation? If he is right, then that would mean that I can increase the rent? He is currently paying Dh115k, whereas market is Dh135k. MAZ, Dubai

For either you or the old landlord (your seller) to legally request that the present tenant vacates the property, it is important that you or the old landlord follows these next steps, otherwise you may find that the tenant has the right to stay on for one year longer than the 12 months’ notice which is about to be sent. The 12 months’ notice to vacate for reason of presumably you wishing to use the property yourself has to be served upon expiry of the existing agreement. I would ensure this is done perhaps a week or so before the August expiry date. Remember that it also has to be sent either via notary public or registered mail. Renew the tenancy agreement for the next 12 months; this will be the last time it is extended as you require the property for your own use. Due to the fact that you or the seller has not given him the 90-day notice to alter the existing contract, it therefore has to remain the same for renewal and that includes the rental amount even if the Rera rental calculator will allow for an increase. Finally, clause 2 of your standard tenancy agreement, which states that “the renewal is at the discretion of the landlord” is against the law and therefore not recognised so this clause is null and void.

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