Dubai tenants: How to file a rent dispute case?

If you can’t reach a settlement with your landlord, file an official complaint with the Rent Disputes Settlement Centre

The real estate market is one of the leading industries in Dubai, and the recent fluctuation in prices and policies gives room to some disputes between landlords and tenants. If you ever get into a dispute with your landlord and find a need to file an official complaint, we offer some information to help your process.

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When to file a complaint?

If you weren’t able to reach a settlement with your landlord and have exhausted all means of communication, then you are advised to file an official complaint with the Rent Disputes Settlement Centre at the Dubai Land Department’s head office in Deira. The centre was established in order to smoothly resolve disputes between landlords and tenants. The committee working at the centre looks into all cases of disputes except those involving financial disputes like finance lease contracts, in addition to rental disputes located in the free zones (JAFZA, Tecom, DMC). The most common complaint is due to unfair rental increases issued by landlords which go against Rental Increase Laws in Dubai. Though sometimes, landlords need to file complaints against their tenants.

How to file a complaint?

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

  • Passport and Visa
  • Emirates ID
  • Ejari certificate
  • Original blue tenancy contract
  • Recent DEWA bills
  • Rental deposit slip
  • Copies of cheques issued to landlord
  • Title Deed and Passport copy of landlord (originals are required if you are the landlord)
  • Copies of any correspondence between tenant and landlord regarding the rental increase or dispute at hand
  • Any other documentation that can help support your case
  • If this is in relation to a commercial property, then you will need all documentation in relation to the business (trade licenses, etc).

If you have an Arabic copy of these documents, it is certainly advantageous. Once you have your papers ready, head to the RDC where they have a typing centre to fill out your complaint which then prepares you to file your case. The typist will be translating the necessary documents into Arabic and will ask questions about the nature of your dispute so that your complaint can be formalised correctly.

What does it cost to lodge a rental dispute?

  • The complaint is not free; the fee is 3.5% of the annual rent of the property and must be at least 500AED and not exceed 20,000AED.
  • There are also costs to have your documents translated by the typing centre at the dispute committee (approx. 210 AED, however costs may vary)
  • There are also additional administration costs that may be added. (approx. 110 AED)

So for example, a tenant lodging a dispute with a current rental amount of 70,000 AED will incur the following costs to lodge their dispute:

3.5% of 70,000 = 2450
Translation fee = 210
Admin fee = 110
Total: 2770 AED

  • There will also be costs associated with parking and transportation to the venue so keep these in mind along with the time. It is common for the entire process to take approx. 1-2 hours depending on how busy the dispute centre is that day.

What happens next?

  • The Arbitration Department is the first our of four departments in the legal process of handling a rental dispute. This department tries to resolve the dispute within 15 days.
  • If the parties were unable to reach a settlement via arbitration, then a lawsuit needs to be filed and a ruling is issued within 30 days.
  • The decision made will be effective unless an appeal is made. In this case, the annual rent value on the tenancy contract must be worth more than 100,000AED.
  • The Execution Department is responsible for enforcing the decisions and judgments taken by the centre and these judgements cannot be reversed.

What to expect once your case has been filed?

  • RERA will give you a date and time to go and present your case, but keep in mind that there will be a queue and you might have to wait for a few hours.
  • If the committee decides that the case is not straightforward and the documents are not sufficient, you will need to come back another time.
  • The case might take weeks or even months to be resolved, so tenants are advised to only resort to this once all other means have failed.

What happens if the dispute is resolved out of court, before the case date?

In the event that this occurs, you and the landlord are no longer required to attend the hearing to discuss the case. It is assumed that your absence equals a resolution.

For more guidance on how to deal with landlords and things to take into consideration, visit our Tips & Advice section.

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This Blog is made available for educational purposes only, in addition to providing you with general information and a general understanding of its content, including referenced laws and regulations, and not to provide specific legal advice. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent advice from a licensed professional.